WASHINGTON: It took 20 years for Canada's lumber exporters to come up with the idea of using a US PR firm to further their cause. It took less than a month for them to choose which one.Burson-Marsteller won the 17-firm battle last week for the two-year integrated campaign. The $20 million contract was among the year's most coveted. The drive's first goal is to eliminate a recently levied 27% tax on all Canadian lumber exports into America. A larger objective is to reverse the US mindset that made the tariff possible. US lumber producers argue that Canadian counterparts benefit unfairly from government subsidies that let them sell their goods here at uncompetitive prices. The Forest Products Association of Canada, the group behind the campaign, says this is false, and wants to teach US lawmakers and the public why. Burson beat Edelman and Shepherdson, Stern & Kaminksy. The latter presented a bipartisan team of lobbyists and advertisers that included former Clinton press secretaries Mike McCurry and Joe Lockhart. Burson took a similar tack, offering its lobbying shop BKSH & Associates, its grassroots shop Direct Impact, and Democratic ad firm Squire, Knapp, Dunn. The campaign is slated to begin September 1.