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‘The federal government announced retaliatory tariffs in response to the U.S. tariff on Canadian steel, to start July 1. What do you think of this response?’

By Laura Ryckewaert      
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland make their way to the National Press Theatre in May, when they announced the government's plans to retaliate against the U.S. tariffs. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade
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Cameron Ahmad

Liberal strategist

“As the prime minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said the day the administration made the announcement, these tariffs are completely unacceptable. Canada has been the most steadfast and reliable ally of the United States for 150 years.

“In response to these measures, our government announced the intention to impose tariffs against imports of steel, aluminum, and other products from the United States representing the total value of 2017 Canadian exports affected by the U.S. measures. We are imposing dollar-for-dollar tariffs for every dollar levied against Canadians by the U.S., applying only to goods originating from the United States, to take effect July 1, and remain in place until the U.S. eliminates its trade-restrictive measures against Canada.

“Our steel and aluminum workers have our government’s full, unequivocal support. The unilateral trade restrictions by the U.S. are in violation of NAFTA and World Trade Organization (WTO) trade rules, which is why Canada launched dispute settlement proceedings in response.

“It is entirely inappropriate to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat, and we will continue to defend our workers, industries, and interests while opposing the measures taken by the U.S, and responding appropriately.”

 

Cory Hann

Conservative strategist 

“The announcement of new U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum is unacceptable and represents a serious blow to the workers who rely on this industry to put food on the table for their families. Canada’s Conservatives stand with them and the entire industry, and we will always put workers first.

“It was just two months ago, however, when Justin Trudeau promised workers in Quebec, Ontario, and Saskatchewan that he had resolved this issue. But now the industry is facing massive new tariffs. Clearly the prime minister failed.

“This threat to the steel and aluminum industry has been looming for a year, and we warned the Liberals their government was unprepared for this development. There was nothing in their latest budget as a contingency should this happen.

“It’s yet another cost to the Canadian economy, which has already seen billions in foreign investments leave the country under Justin Trudeau, and critical pipeline projects such as Northern Gateway and Energy East being shut down by the Liberal government.

“Our support is only reinforced when confronted by protectionist measures from our trading partners around the world.” 

Mathieu R. St-Amand

Québec debout strategist

“Canada had to respond to U.S. trade protectionism. Let’s be clear—the U.S. tariffs are illegal, and Canada had to file a complaint with the WTO. Hiking tariffs on targeted products from specific electoral districts appears to be a good strategy.

“The major Canadian and Quebec aluminum and steel producers are robust enough to handle U.S. tariffs. However, we must not forget the industry’s smallest players, particularly those who process both metals. Much of their production is sold in the United States, and they often do not have the funds to withstand the new U.S. tariffs.

“Unfortunately, processors have been largely forgotten in Canada’s response. There are close to 14,000 processors in Quebec. The minister needs to quickly set up an emergency fund to support them. As with softwood lumber, the aluminum and steel processing industry must have access to loan guarantees to weather the U.S. offensive. Justin Trudeau should have announced his support for the industry at his first press conference, with figures and credible tactics. Show the government’s full support for our producers.”

Debra Eindiguer

Green strategist

“The fourth principle of Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal is ‘know your market.’ It’s unclear whether Chrystia Freeland’s team was inspired by ‘the Donald,’ but they certainly have demonstrated knowledge of American markets. What do felt-tip pens, motorboats and gherkins have in common?  They’re all pressure points designed to make Trump flinch and loosen his grip over the House of Representatives.

“Donald Trump, the most famous realtor in recent history, approaches trade negotiations with the mindset of a pre-capitalist medieval landlord constantly warring with neighbouring barons over territory and its rents. Capitalism is based on the wisdom, when partners have a similar standard of living such as Canada and the United States, that open markets and comparative advantage mutually benefit trading partners. In their capacity to think internationally the founders of liberal economics were able to ‘think big.’ Ironically, that is the first principle of Trump’s The Art of the Deal but it’s difficult to detect any evidence of big thinking in his bellicose posturing over trade.

“Trump’s presidency is just over 500 days old and already his unpredictability is legendary. Fortunately, Canada’s non-partisan NAFTA negotiating team and the astute civil servants at Global Affairs have proven to be exemplary in their level of preparedness. Slapping the U.S. with retaliatory tariffs is far from ideal, it’s even illiberal. But when in Rome one must do as the Romans do—and, if possible, do it better.”

The Hill Times 

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