How to win the softwood lumber war

August 26, 2005 by  

National Post, Letters
August 25, 2005

Re: The Case For Surrender, Andrew Coyne, Aug. 24.

Mr. Coyne is right that Canadian provinces are subsidizing timber, and that those subsidies are bad for the economy. They also encourage environmental harm and poor forest management. He also has a clear-cut case on the wrong-headedness of domestic retaliation: imposing more taxes on goods imported from the United States would only lower the Canadian standard of living.

However, I cannot agree that Canada should simply surrender. There is another, quite peaceful, option. Canada should buy some commercial time on major U.S. media networks so that we can speak directly to hardworking, overtaxed American homebuyers.

I can see the commercial now: happy, smiling, Canadians waving their Canadian flags in front of their newly built homes. The overdub: “By overtaxing imported Canadian lumber, the U.S. government has made it more costly to build a home in the United States. But there is an upside: by paying more to build your home, you have made it possible for Canadians to build their homes at lower rates. We, the new home owners of Canada, thank you for your ongoing financial commitment to the housing of Canadians.”

It would not be long before Americans demanded the axe be taken to U.S. taxes on Canadian wood.

Paul McKeever, Oshawa, Ont.


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