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Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.

Softwood lumber is back to confuse us once more: Vicky Mochama

Donald Trump isn't the only one who doesn't understand the issues at the core of the matter.

The Canadian Press

Like fanny packs, crop tops and Jeff Goldblum’s career, trade conflagrations over softwood lumber with our American neighbours are back.

It’s the ‘90s all over again.

Softwood lumber is in the news now thanks to Donald Trump, who last week slapped duties between three and 24 per cent on Canadian softwood lumber. Industry leaders here shot back, saying the move was illegal and they will fight it in court.

More Views from Vicky:

Growing up, my parents were nightly news watchers; it seemed to me that Peter Mansbridge was positively obsessed with softwood lumber. (We should not rule out the possibility that this trade debacle is actually Peter’s parting present to his fellow newscasters. A true diva only leaves after an encore.)

Back then, I did not understand what it was about but I, along with the rest of the nation, breathed a sigh of relief when Canada and the United States announced a resolution to the long-standing dispute in 2006.

The softwood lumber squabble was, I had hoped, something I could tell the next generations about with sighing nostalgia.

“In the ‘90s and early aughts,” I planned to tell my grandnieces and nephews via telepathic Skype, “we used to have trees.”

“Mom took us to see The Last Tree at Disney!” they’d exclaim.

I would sigh, “Yes, and once upon a time, we made things with trees and we got into a fight with the United States about trees. We called it the softwood lumber dispute.”

With the deadpan boredom of children, they’d ask, “What’s softwood lumber?”

“Hello? Sorry. My telepathy is going out.”

My telepathy will not be going out.

I don’t think I can answer that question. And I had hoped that it wouldn’t come up again during my adult years.

You see, I’m not entirely sure I know what softwood lumber is. I am certain I’ve been told about it.

It’s one of those quirks of the brain that there are a handful of important things that I’ll always have difficulty remembering.

For example, I regularly pay a utility bill but I can’t tell you with any certainty whether it’s heat, water, electricity or gas. It is possibly two of the four though I’d be guessing if I had to pick.

Another one I can’t quite pin down is ovulation. I’m a woman and a feminist and I believe in taking responsibility for one’s own health. And yet, I have nothing but a series of guesses as to all five Ws and the How of ovulation. That one I’m certain I’ve been tested on.

How odd then to find myself sympathizing with President Trump. Both of us know nothing about softwood lumber, have likely been briefed on it and are fudging the answer.

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