That there is (and was) something radically wrong with the Softwood Lumber Agreement is beyond the shadow of a doubt. There are more skeletons in that huge closet (or even attic) called “free trade.” One particular apparition that continues to haunt me personally is the issue of Chapter 16 of the NAFTA – in which professionals (who are citizens) of any of the three amigo countries – (Canada, Mexico and the US of A) can work in the other two. I did that for six years, and continue to suffer from what I have called the “inappropriate hiring and fraudulent visaing” practices, initially done “in innocence” and afterwards completely “in denial” and “in vehement opposition,” when I discovered them after four or five years being “there,” working and enjoying myself professionally.
Under this Chapter 16, I was not eligible to be hired by a state agency. Why? A state agency is not a “US entity.” It is a “government agency” by definition.
The NAFTA is only a trade treaty; it is not an employment treaty nor an immigration treaty at all. But……. I was somehow hired, and the US federal customs guards gave me and my wife Visas, based on a letter from a person working in a state agency (who was to become my supervisor). This letter had been written and sent to me without the involvement or scrutiny or even knowledge of their HR department. Yet it was considered valid as their “letter of support” (in fact, it was the actual application) when the customs guard, in early 2002, gave us our (first) one-year Visas: a TN Visa for me and a TD Visa for my wife (as dependant).
This continued for three years without anybody knowing that this was wrong. Then my supervisor retired and; for my 4th “letter of support,” his successor took the matter to the HR department. Can you fathom why the matter was then first hushed, later covered up, and when I started to ask questions, was even threatened? You see, the individual states are not “signatories” to the NAFTA – just because they do not do any “trade,” they only “govern.” That’s where the problem lies, also with the softwood lumber issue.
Unfortunately, it appears to me that softwood lumber is also an internal Canadian problem, between the provinces – which are even not “signatories.”
We all know that British Columbia already suffered a lot (about a decade ago) when it lost in court. Guess what? For Chapter 16 of the NAFTA, there is not even a proper conflict resolution mechanism. I got nowhere with my complaints, and we eventually returned to Canada, with some substantial (and ongoing) financial woes.
Jacob A. de Raadt, Osoyoos