NDP Layton pledges to pull out of softwood lumber agreement
Speaking in the heart of Ontario's forestry industry on Wednesday, New Democrat Leader Jack Layton pledged to reverse the Conservatives'softwood lumber deal with the United States.
Layton said the agreement -- hammered out in 2007 under the carriage of former International Trade Minister David Emerson -- was a betrayal ofCanadian lumber producers.
The "softwood lumber sell-out to the U.S. gave up on years of trade rulings in Canada's favour," Layton said in Kenora, Ont., putting the blame squarely on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.
After the deal was arranged, Layton said, "Harper then broke his promise to provide loan guarantees for struggling producers, and to find ways to help support forestry communities."He added: "Instead, he gave a $50-billion tax gift to profitable banks and oil companies that don't need the help."
Softwood proposal details - In addition to cancelling the hard-fought softwood deal, Layton said he would work to open U.S. markets based on fair trade in lumber.
He would also: restrict the exportation of raw logs and focus on value-added processing in Canada encourage and speed up sustainable forestry practices overhaul plans for dealing with the pine beetle and other invasive insects, set up a fully independent regional development agency for northern Ontario create new business and job opportunities through development and innovation.
Since the election campaign began, Layton has virtually by passed the Liberals and taken aim directly at Harper and the Conservatives, saying he is gunning for the prime minister's job.