In the wake of the U.S. government’s refusal to remit softwood duties as decided by the NAFTA tribunal process, the CEO and business leader panel gives Prime Minister Martin the worst performance grade he has ever received - a failing grade of 47% on a school report card-type scale.
The panel attributes the U.S. government’s position less to an honest belief that Canada’s stumpage practices amount to improper subsidies than to reaction against rising anti-Americanism in Ottawa and in Canada as whole. A few respondents volunteer that Washington’s position on softwood duties reflects a history of hard-line positions on trade disputes.
Other key findings:
- The panel is no more concerned about the softwood dispute in general than in the past and does not see Canadian-American relations as any worse than it did in March, but is concerned that Washington’s rejection of the tribunal decision on duty remission signifies that free trade is not working and Canada is vulnerable;
- The panel feels strongly that Canada should definitely be committed to preserving NAFTA in the face of U.S. government doubts about its value;
- With an eye on improving Canada’s position in the bilateral relationship, the panel expresses very strong support for heightened anti-terrorist cooperation, strong support for a greater investment in our embassy and lobbying efforts in Washington, and strong support for enhanced military defence;
- The panel is divided about using oil and gas as a bargaining chip - a small majority advocates thinking about using it while an overwhelming majority thinks that blocking oil exports is a poor or bad idea.
These are the key findings from the week’s web survey of CEOs and business leaders conducted under the sponsorship of BDO Dunwoody LLP and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
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