PM Will Risk Vote on Softwood Deal

Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched the U.S. softwood lumber agreement into the realm of a fall confidence vote. The NDP are on the record; will the Liberals and Bloc bite?

Lee Berthiaume
Published: Wednesday, 08/23/2006 12:00 am EDT

The Conservatives will risk a confidence vote when they bring the controversial softwood lumber deal to the house for a vote in the fall, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday. Mr. Harper says a "significant percentage" of industry representatives had agreed to a deal that would see the U.S. return $4 billion of $5.3 billion in tariffs collected on the import of lumber, adding: "Because of its fiscal measures, the vote on this agreement will be a confidence measure." Mr. Harper's comments came the day after the Standing Committee on International Trade wrapped up the second of a two-day hearing on the issue. All three opposition parties have condemned the report as an attempt by the Tories to put aside the divisive issue and restore good relations with the U.S., while many industry representatives have said the deal will damage Canada's softwood lumber business. NDP Trade critic Peter Julian said his party is strongly against the deal and contended that the government has not received approval from 95 per cent of the industry as specified in the agreement. While Mr. Julian said the NDP would vote against the deal, it is unclear whether the other two parties will follow suit despite their vocal opposition to the deal.

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