David Emerson was appointed a year ago to represent B.C. in lumber trade talks between the U.S. and Canada. (Black Press files)

David Emerson quits lumber talks as legal action begins

Former federal minister served as B.C. softwood trade point man

Former forest industry executive and federal minister David Emerson will continue to advise the B.C. government, but his role as a negotiator with the U.S. over softwood lumber trade is over.

Premier John Horgan said Monday the Dec. 7 decision of the U.S. International Trade Commission to uphold duties on Canadian lumber exports “significantly reduces” the likelihood to negotiate an end to the latest trade battle. B.C. supplies half of Canada’s lumber exports to south, and Dec. 7 marked the official U.S. position that Canadian producers must pay about 20 per cent duty on lumber.

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“I know from my own past experience that B.C. and Canada will prevail through litigation and remain confident that a deal can be reached when the time is right,” Emerson said in a statement.

Emerson was appointed in February 2017 by former premier Christy Clark to represent B.C. in negotiations led by Ottawa. Federal Trade Minister Christia Freeland announced last week that Canada’s larger trade dispute over the North American Free Trade Agreement, lumber and other issues are being taken to the World Trade Organization for a ruling.