The governments of Ontario and Quebec are urging Ottawa to surrender in the trade war with the United States that is hurting steel and aluminium industries in Canada.
Economic Development and Trade Minister Todd Smith told reporters at Queen’s Park on Monday that the federal government must immediately lift its retaliatory tariffs against the Americans.
“We want tariffs removed on both sides of the border when it comes to steel and aluminium,” said Smith, who has sent Ottawa a joint letter with Quebec Minister of Economy and Innovation Pierre Fitzgibbon.
“This is bad for industry,” he said, imploring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to end the impasse with President Donald Trump and criticizing the federal government’s new trade deal with the U.S. and Mexico.
In their missive, the provincial ministers demand “the permanent removal of any and all tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium.”
“At the same time, it is important that Canada not agree to an outcome that would see other trade impediments such as quotas continue to restrict trade and hamper the competitiveness and growth of Canadian industry,” the ministers wrote.
Last May, the U.S. imposed tariffs of 25 per cent on imports of Canadian steel and 10 per cent on imports of Canadian aluminium.
Canada retaliated with “dollar-for-dollar” tariffs of its own against American industry.
Ottawa noted that money collected from the levies has been flowing to companies in Ontario. About $624 million has been distributed across the country, mostly in this province.
Federal Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said there are no plans to capitulate.
“The Ford government’s call for Canada to unilaterally and unconditionally remove its counter-tariffs would equal unilateral surrender to the Americans,” said Bains.
“The reciprocal tariffs are critical to pressuring the Americans to end this dispute once and for all,” he said, blasting Queen’s Park for being missing in action.
“While we’re standing up against illegal U.S. tariffs and supporting steel and aluminum workers in Ontario, Doug Ford’s government is nowhere to be seen.”
Bains noted “the last time any Ontario official visited Washington was five months ago in September, when Premier Ford held one meeting at Canada’s embassy, but he skipped the chance the meet anyone from the administration or congress.”
“Todd Smith and Doug Ford should join us and stand-up for Ontario workers instead of trying to score cheap political points on the back of our steel and aluminium workers.”