Work in the Shadows
Most of what is known and appreciated about Canada Wood activities and programming takes place in the open, often publicized and visible to industry. Frequently however crucial work takes place behind the scenes on issues that have potential to be disruptive and damaging to industry exports: e.g. phyto-sanitary rules imposed by foreign plant protection authorities or technical barriers to trade erected by code authorities. Resolution is usually not straight forward and, while important to advise industry about the emergence of problems, it is not always wise to publicize widely.
Therefore good work is frequently done by some ‘unsung’ team members of Canada Wood without industry and its stakeholders ever having realized that a problem was sized up, actions taken and the issue resolved. These actions may require direct engagement with the foreign authorities or the intercession of the Canadian Government, experts from academia, rallying foreign allies etc. Sometimes ‘brick walls’ are encountered and no compromise or back down is possible. But persuasive technical arguments exposing inconsistent approaches or self-serving strategies often force the other party to concede and relax what might have become an injurious policy. Sometimes the timeline to resolution is lengthy.
Recent examples include several instances of proposed higher than justified design values for competitive lumber species, duplicative marking and labelling requirements for wood products, onerous preservation standards for treated wood, excessive requirements for plant health compliance and so on.
These topics don’t make for flashy photo ops but they can make or break the competitiveness of Canadian wood products in foreign markets.
So, for those who toil unceasingly against the dark forces of trade resistive practices – thank you for your often thankless, yet critical efforts. You know who you are!