LePage: Greed drives lumber prices following hurricanes
Gov. Paul LePage is calling for a suspension of tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber to ease prices as families and businesses prepare to rebuild after hurricanes Harvey and Irma — and with two more months of hurricane season to go.
The Republican governor blames “corporate greed” for driving up costs and says large lumber companies are in the position to price gouge.
“It is unconscionable that a coalition of businesses is in the position to potentially price-gouge distressed Americans who are in dire need of those products to rebuild their lives,” LePage wrote in an op-ed piece published in the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, New Brunswick.
LePage’s comments drew criticism from Jason Brochu, co-owner of Pleasant River Lumber in Maine, who said the governor shouldn’t be using hurricanes “as a political ploy.”
LePage is especially frustrated over tariffs on softwood lumber that apply for the first time the Canadian province of New Brunswick, which has been exempt for decades.
The Canadian government is accused of unfairly subsidizing lumber exports. LePage said that’s true in western Canada but it’s different in the eastern provinces. The lumber trade, he said, “flows almost seamlessly back and forth between Maine, Quebec and New Brunswick.”
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