Union and politicians meet to discuss paper company threatened by American tariffs

Union and politicians meet to discuss paper company threatened by American tariffs

WATCH: An emergency meeting is just wrapping up at the legislature. The reason for the meeting is Catalyst Paper. The company is fighting two rounds of punishing American duties. Mary Griffin reports.

It’s not often you see union representatives, company executives, and politicians in one room together. But it speaks of the importance of Thursday’s meeting.  All had gathered in the legislature to discuss the fate of Catalyst Paper, the main employer in three coastal communities.

Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa said his town relies on Catalyst Paper.

“I’m extremely concerned for my community. There is no doubt about it.”

Catalyst Paper employs more than 1,300 in Port Alberni, Crofton, and Powell River. The United States imposed punishing tariffs totalling 28 per cent on its American-bound paper products. Those duties a result of a complaint by Catalyst’s American competitor, Washington state-based Norpac.

“What it means is that we need to find a solution. These are a punitive level tariff. And we need to find a solution. It’s a government issue. And we need a government solution. Without that solution, it’s a prohibitive cost issue,” Ned Dwyer, Catalyst Paper CEO, said.

Premier John Horgan called the meeting, and also invited the Liberal opposition. It’s the largest meeting of its kind since the NDP formed the government. And it highlights the significance of Catalyst paper to the coastal economy.

“We are concerned, and that’s why the invitation was given so broadly to members of the opposition, to the company’s CEO, to representatives of the union, to local mayors in these communities. To make sure, and demonstrate we are doing everything we possibly can to fight back and save these jobs,” B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, Bruce Ralston, said.

While no layoffs have occurred at the mills, the threat is there. “There is no doubt. It could close my mill down. So there’s 400 jobs. There’s the largest taxpayer in the community,” Formosa said.

This meeting is the latest in a series to support the company and various levels of government, as they work to overturn the tariffs.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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