Catalyst Paper and its host communities needs the assistance promised by Ottawa sooner rather than later, B.C. Premier John Horgan has reminded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Horgan wrote to Trudeau after convening a meeting with executives of Catalyst Paper, local and provincial politicians representing North Cowichan, Port Alberni and Powell River, where pulp and paper mills are major employers.
“The massive tariffs imposed by U.S. authorities at the behest of a single Washington state company put the jobs of 1,600 British Columbians working at three Catalyst pulp mills at risk,” Horgan wrote in a letter to Trudeau. “While I appreciate the magnitude of other U.S. actions may seem signifiant – steel, aluminum and softwood lumber stand out – the future of three coastal communities is at stake in this matter.”
The U.S. Commerce Department has imposed preliminary duties on Canadian uncoated paper that total more than 28 per cent, after a New York hedge fund bought North Pacific Paper Company in 2016 and petitioned for trade protection.
No other U.S. paper company is making the same complaint, and the American Forest and Paper Association has joined 1,100 U.S. newspaper companies and Democrat and Republican members of Congress in arguing against the tariffs.
Horgan has also spoken with Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Oregon Governor Kate Brown about the issue.
Horgan said his April 19 meeting with industry and community officials revealed “some confusion” about how to apply to Ottawa’s promised “softwood lumber action plan,” and whether the assistance would come in time.