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Bill Kelly: Softwood lumber ruling proves new NAFTA deal is necessary

A worker at a softwood lumber mill in Fredericton.
A worker at a softwood lumber mill in Fredericton. FILE - Kevin Godwin/ Global News

Canadian trade officials are rallying behind Canada’s softwood lumber industry after getting stung with a ruling that our softwood lumber exports to the United States are hurting the American economy.

But before we get too worked up with the ruling, let’s consider the source, namely the United States International Trade Commission.

READ MORE: Hefty duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports to U.S. will likely remain for 5 years

Of course, an all-American commission is going to favour American industry lobbyists over the Canadians, it would be folly to expect anything else.

The Canadians will likely appeal to an international trade commission to have the ruling overturned, but the timing here is important.

One of the controversial sticking points of the stalled NAFTA negotiations is that Canada wants all trade disputes adjudicated  by an independent international panel, but the Americans are insisting that any disputes would be settled by American courts.

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This softwood lumber ruling is a pretty good indicator of how the system would work if the Americans get their way.

It’s a stark reminder of the hard line that the Americans are taking on many key trade issues.

Those NAFTA talks are a lot less about negotiation and more like a declaration of terms of surrender to the American position.

Canada has to draw a line in the sand and this softwood lumber ruling is as good a time as any to do so.

Bill Kelly is the host of Bill Kelly Show on AM 900 CHML