Canada and the United States have reached agreement on a formal text for a softwood lumber deal, a giant step toward resolving the biggest trade irritant between the two countries.
But in keeping with the tortuous history of the dispute, there was a last-minute twist in the accord announced late Saturday - just as Prime Minister Stephen Harper was preparing for a trip to Washington.
The agreement is supposed to run for seven years, with an option to renew for another two years. But an escape clause was added at U.S. insistence; after 23 months either side can serve notice that it wants out, and then can walk away 13 months after that.
Does anyone believe Harper didn't instruct Emerson to get the deal done, so he could look the hero in Washington? Apparently, the sellout doesn't end with the obnoxious clause that allows the Americans to backout after two years. Emerson assures everyone the clause is irrelevant, to which you must ask- why have it then? Once again the Conservatives put political gain, ahead of timely negotiation. This deal is done for one reason, Harper wants the handshake in Washington. Pretty pictures over prudence.