The Bewildered Wilbur Ross

Here we go again. Every few years, US lumber businesses demand US Department of Commerce apply countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber to thwart illegal/unfair subsidies. Problem is, there are no subsidies. In Canada, the federal government, the signatory to the NAFTA, does not subsidize softwood lumber. Neither do the provinces. The Feds do not control softwood lumber. The provinces do. As a long standing practice, provincial governments control the vast majority of forested regions in Canada and charge a duty to those who would cut wood.

I know about that, because I used to have a wood-heated home and I asked for a permit to cut 10 cords in an area marked for reforestation by Manitoba. It was just a few dollars. I don’t remember the amount, but I worked for several days felling huge trees and filling my pickup with firewood. That was just the beginning of the process. That wood required two years of drying before it would burn efficiently and I had to store it while drying. Nobody subsidized my firewood. I paid for everything. The permit/royalty system is eminently fair. There is a resource of known size. The government decides how much will be cut where and sells permits to anyone rich or poor, big or small. I was out in the bush dodging operations with bulldozers, loaders and huge trucks, but my chainsaw was permitted to cut what they left behind. Nobody subsidized anyone. We all worked hard doing what we had to do.

Now, the whiners in the US lumber industry don’t want Canadian lumber in their market but they can’t exclude it. Instead they whine that the royalty system is government intrusion in the market, a subsidy, when it’s not. It’s a tax. Effectively, the Canadian tax is less than the USAian tax determined by auctions. They keep taking this to court and LOSING.

So, bewildered Wilbur and stupid USAians who think the world should do things their way are doing everything they can to drive exports of softwood lumber to China and India… Smart. Real smart. Perhaps USAians won’t mind rising costs for building homes and shortages of lumber and deforestation and … Look, we Canadians don’t have to do things USA’s way. We are a free nation of free people and we choose our own path.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
This entry was posted in horticulture, politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Bewildered Wilbur Ross

  1. Grece says:

    The future of home building is not with lumber, but with 3D printing concrete.

  2. Old Bill wrote, “the one thing that is certain is that the tax is going to be paid by the “USAians” who buy the wood, not the Canucks, who sell it”.

    That’s not exactly clear. Previously, Canada applied an export-tax so that the money to adjust the price was going to good use… I have no idea what Trump will do with this. I think China is the way to go. We should build more seaports on the west coast to make sure the volume can be handled. Vancouver is pretty busy as things stand.

  3. Old Bill says:

    It is a tax, certainly, and one can argue loud and long as to the facts of the matter of fair or unfair trade practices. But the one thing that is certain is that the tax is going to be paid by the “USAians” who buy the wood, not the Canucks, who sell it. No need for you to waste any bile on the situation unless you are planning on moving down here and building a wood house. If there is any effect on the market, it will only reduce prices for you guys if there is more wood to burn on the north side of the border.

Leave a Reply