Justin Trudeau listens during an interview at the Bloomberg Businessweek Debrief in Toronto on April 20.
(Photo: Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images)That state's plywood, flooring, wood chips, packaging material and wine are among the potential targets as the Canadian government has launched a search for evidence of illegal subsidies to businesses in that state.
A worker walks past stacks of lumber at the Partap Forest Products mill in Maple Ridge, B.C. on Tuesday. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/CP)The course of action being reviewed by the Canadian government is similar to the process used in the U.S. that slapped a 20-per-cent duty on northern lumber. It involves a request to the Canada Border Services Agency to study illegal subsidies in Oregon, a process that would take several months. The government says it has identified nine programs in Oregon that assist businesses, primarily in lumber. They include: the Oregon Underproductive Forestland Tax Credit, the Oregon Forest Resource Trust, the Oregon Tree Farm Program, the Pacific Forest Trust, property tax exemptions for standing timber, a small winery tax exemption program and other tax credits. "It's a real thing. Our officials have already been looking at this," said one government official familiar with the plan. ''Wyden has been a chief proponent for years of the baseless and unfounded claims against the Canadian softwood lumber industry.''
Escalating trade hostilitiesThese threats arrive in a climate of escalating trade hostilities. Trump's recent digs at Canada — coupled with his embrace of 'America First' trade nationalism, his full-throated support of what was a widely expected duty on lumber, and his complaints about Canadian dairy — have drawn reactions north of the border. The strongest reactions have come from provincial governments. Ontario is reportedly examining targets for retaliation in the event of any new Buy American provisions. And B.C.'s premier has turned a threat of retaliation into the centrepiece of her current election campaign.
B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark speaks to constituents in B.C. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/CP)But a former diplomat urged caution. Clark's threat to ban or tax U.S. thermal coal would be against Canada's own interests, said Colin Robertson, a former member of Canada’s NAFTA negotiating team, now vice-president at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. "You don't want to stop the Americans using our ports," Robertson said in an interview. "I’d be surprised at having invested so much over the last decade — by the Martin government, the Harper government and the Trudeau government, at least in the early stages — that you would want to take actions that would make it more difficult for the Americans to use our ports."
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