Christy Clark said:
“Leo Gerard who is the head of the Steelworkers, um, and is a Canadian, is standing next to Donald Trump and advising him to shut off softwood jobs here in Canada. I mean we can only assume he would have had that advice because he has been standing there proudly and supporting Donald Trump in attacking our lumber industry and our lumber workers. That’s not helpful. And as a lifelong member, and honorary member of the New Democrats, he should know better than to attack BC workers and BC jobs”
• Leo Gerard is the Canadian-born President of the United Steelworkers (USW), a global union with over 1.2 million active and retired members in the United States and Canada.
• In that capacity, he met with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and President Trump over protections for U.S. domestic steel relating to “national security”. The USW endorsed those measures.
• In no way did the USW president endorse Mr. Trump’s broader comments about Canadian imports, including dairy products and lumber. Indeed, he stated (Globe and Mail, April 22, 2017):
“The important thing for my being there is that Canada’s not the problem that the United States has in the steel industry,” Mr. Gerard said in an interview Friday in his office, a 12th-floor aerie with a spectacular view of Pittsburgh’s three rivers. “The problem with the steel industries of both countries – Canada and the United States – is the onslaught of unfairly traded steel, primarily from China but also from Japan, South Korea and India.”
“Part of the reason I was willing to go to the thing with Trump was to make it understood that it’s not just steel,” Mr. Gerard said. “The same thing’s happening in aluminum, cement, glass. The trade laws don’t work. On both sides of the border, we have to fix the trade laws. The American and Canadian worker should not have to pay this price.
“Part of my role is to make sure I’m a voice for our members on both sides of the border,” he said. “Steel, rubber, cement, glass – I make it clear Canada is not part of the problem.”
• The USW also has a clear position on the softwood lumber dispute, endorsed by its International Executive Board, which Mr. Gerard heads. It states:
“Canada and the United States are global leaders with respect to forest certification. No other regions on earth have as much of their forests independently certified with third party verification, ensuring their forests are harvested in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner.
Other countries, many of which have lessor environmental protections, some employing currency manipulation tactics, seem to be gaining increased access to the United States market, which is an affront to hard working women and men in both the United States and Canada.
… Canada and the United State should treat each other with “Favoured Nation Status” and the Canadian imports into the United States should be no more restricted than any third country importer.”
• Earlier this year, following Mr. Trump’s election, Gerard was specifically asked about softwood lumber by the CBC (CBC News, January 16, 2017):
Gerard said despite Trump's tough trade talk, the softwood lumber dispute remains his top concern for Canadian workers…
Gerard said … he's actively lobbying American lawmakers to hold the line on new duties on Canadian lumber.
"But it's being used in the U.S. as a fundraiser for a lot of Republican and Democratic candidates," he said. "So there's places, because I'm in the U.S., I can defend and work with Canada. We're going to defend Canada, left, right and centre, or mostly left I hope."
Gerard said despite the incoming U.S. president's tough talk on free trade, the Canadian and American economies are too intertwined for it to have much of an impact north of the border.
• On the other hand, Christy Clark said (Global News, April 11, 2017):
“Canada is more likely to reach a lasting solution for the softwood lumber trade dispute with the United States now that President Donald Trump is in power…”
• She has made other favourable comments about Trump. And Christy Clark personally cashed in with a $300,000 second salary paid by millions in donations from multinational forestry companies, including $241,000 from Weyerhaeuser. Weyerhaeuser is the #1 softwood producer in the United States and is actively petitioning for higher tariffs on BC lumber.
Who should BC forest workers really be concerned about when it comes to the softwood lumber dispute?
“This is a vital election for British Columbians, who are seeing a growing disparity between the rich and the poor, a degrading of our public services, and no respect for unions or workers,” said National Local President Lee Riggs. “This is the time to get involved, volunteer, donate, and definitely vote! BC has suffered far too long under the BC Liberal government and their ‘alternative facts.”
Remember to tune in for tonight’s BC provincial leaders debate at 6:30 PT.