Or perhaps that should be negotiation by dummies. Canada's Trade Minister Jim Peterson seems intent on providing a great demonstration of how not to bring the negotiation over a trade dispute to a successful conclusion. That's unless, of course, you measure success by how happy the other side in the negotiation will be.
The subject is softwood lumber. Negotiations to end the ongoing dispute surrounding punitive American duties on Canadian lumber are set to resume today and from the National Post here's a summary of the current Canadian position that Peterson thinks will resolve the issue.
The proposal suggests a deal where Canada would impose its own export tax on most lumber shipped to the U.S. in exchange for an end to the crippling duties that cost the industry about $150 million a month.
The tax would presumably be lifted once the U.S. Department of Commerce is satisfied that the provinces have implemented the changes American competitors say amount to unfair subsidies.
Shorter Jim Peterson: We think we're right and you're wrong and every dispute resolution mechanism available to us has supported that position. So we're going to punish ourselves until we see it your way.
Where did they find this guy?
Scott Tribe, one of the newest members of the BlogsCanada E-Group, wrote a good rant a while back on this and the broader subject of trade disputes with our biggest trading partner. He suggested that we should let our elected representatives know how dumb Peterson's approach to this issue is. Yesterday Jim Elve picked up on that and his post provides some examples of a civilized way to say to Peterson et. al. what I've expressed with perhaps more snark than might go over well in a letter to a cabinet minister. If you're inclined to get in on this party, go read.
By the way, do you think Jim Peterson plays poker? I bet that would be fun.