August 14, 2018

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Trump tariff tirade has MPs united across party lines, urging calm

OTTAWA - Canada's House of Commons stood Monday in defiance of Donald Trump, denouncing his name-calling tirade against Justin Trudeau and endorsing the prime minister's firm response to protectionist U.S. tariffs and tweeted presidential threats against dairy producers and automakers.

MPs of all political stripes unanimously adopted a motion to that effect proposed by New Democrat MP Tracey Ramsey even as Trump continued to rail against what he described as unfair trade policies of Canada and other traditional U.S. allies.

"At this moment in our history with our U.S. neighbours, Canadians need to know that all sides of this House stand united as one," Ramsey said before introducing her motion.

The motion calls on the House to recognize the importance of Canada's "long-standing, mutually beneficial trading relationship" with the U.S., "strongly oppose" the "illegitimate tariffs" imposed on steel and aluminum, stand "in solidarity" with the Trudeau government's decision to impose retaliatory tariffs and remain united in support of the supply management system of regulating Canada's dairy and poultry industry.

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OTTAWA - Canada's House of Commons stood Monday in defiance of Donald Trump, denouncing his name-calling tirade against Justin Trudeau and endorsing the prime minister's firm response to protectionist U.S. tariffs and tweeted presidential threats against dairy producers and automakers.

MPs of all political stripes unanimously adopted a motion to that effect proposed by New Democrat MP Tracey Ramsey even as Trump continued to rail against what he described as unfair trade policies of Canada and other traditional U.S. allies.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting at the G7 leaders summit in La Malbaie, Que., on Friday, June 8, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting at the G7 leaders summit in La Malbaie, Que., on Friday, June 8, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

"At this moment in our history with our U.S. neighbours, Canadians need to know that all sides of this House stand united as one," Ramsey said before introducing her motion.

The motion calls on the House to recognize the importance of Canada's "long-standing, mutually beneficial trading relationship" with the U.S., "strongly oppose" the "illegitimate tariffs" imposed on steel and aluminum, stand "in solidarity" with the Trudeau government's decision to impose retaliatory tariffs and remain united in support of the supply management system of regulating Canada's dairy and poultry industry.

And it concludes with a direct shot at Trump, calling on the House to "reject disparaging and ad hominem statements by U.S. officials which do a disservice to bilateral relations and work against efforts to resolve this trade dispute."

Manitoba leaders concerned about Trump's trade tirade

Trade with the United States is vitally important to Manitoba's economy.

Manitoba ships hogs, wheat, canola, processed foods, aircraft parts, transit and intercity buses, electrical energy, frozen vegetables and numerous other products annually to the United States. 

Last year, the province exported nearly $9 billion worth of goods to the United States (out of total exports of $13.8 billion).

Meanwhile, Manitoba imported $16.6 billion worth of products from the U.S. (out of total imports of $21.4 billion).

Imports included fruit and vegetables, motor vehicles, harvesting machinery, machinery parts, chemical products, electronic equipment, alcoholic beverages, printed products, plastics/rubber products and many other manufactured goods.

So, it's no wonder that news of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum exports and the prospect of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products entering Canada have sparked grave concern in political, business and labour circles. U.S. President Donald Trump's personal attacks against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have only heightened concerns.

Trade with the United States is vitally important to Manitoba's economy.

Manitoba ships hogs, wheat, canola, processed foods, aircraft parts, transit and intercity buses, electrical energy, frozen vegetables and numerous other products annually to the United States. 

Last year, the province exported nearly $9 billion worth of goods to the United States (out of total exports of $13.8 billion).

Meanwhile, Manitoba imported $16.6 billion worth of products from the U.S. (out of total imports of $21.4 billion).

Imports included fruit and vegetables, motor vehicles, harvesting machinery, machinery parts, chemical products, electronic equipment, alcoholic beverages, printed products, plastics/rubber products and many other manufactured goods.

So, it's no wonder that news of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum exports and the prospect of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products entering Canada have sparked grave concern in political, business and labour circles. U.S. President Donald Trump's personal attacks against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have only heightened concerns.


"Manitoba is a trading province; Canada is a trading country and we create jobs here not by building things in silos. We work together. Canada and the United States have had the most positive, strongest working relationship, trading partnership, arguably in the history of our planet. So, yeah, this matters and it matters a lot. And America won’t be great again without Canada.

“We appreciate that there is a greater awareness on the part of a lot of people now around our country about the importance of trade, given the threats that we’ve been placed under. I also appreciate the work of my colleagues as we’ve done our best to get ahead of the curve and anticipate that we need to strengthen our own ability to create jobs and build our economy here in Manitoba….”

“It will depend on negotiators not making it personal. We need to stay focused on the ideas – just as we tell our children…the disagreement is not about you as a person, the disagreement is about our ideas here. Let’s keep it focused on the ideas.”

– Premier Brian Pallister


“The relationship between Canada and the U.S. ebbs and flows. There’s (been) periods, obviously, of tremendous good will and personal connection between the president and the prime minister over the years…What is important to remember is we are talking about a billion-dollar-a day-trade relationship between Canada and the United States. And that is the primary focus. And that is the focus on the teams that are meeting… to renegotiate NAFTA. The two leaders are on the periphery of those conversations.

“The teams working behind the scenes are focused. They understand the importance of the trade relationship. They’re well-versed on the issues and are working diligently to secure that agreement…And we remain confident that that will get done and will be a point of celebration between all three countries when we reach that…”

“I think the prime minister has conducted himself extraordinarily well. He is elected to represent the interests of Canada and unapologetically so…He has conducted himself extraordinarily well.” 

– Loren Remillard, president and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce


“We’ve got to stand up for Canada, and the best way to do that is for us to stick together. So, it’s time for us to put partisan differences aside and send a message that we’re standing together against Trump’s nonsense.

“For Manitoba, there is a concern. There’s hundreds of people (in Selkirk) who work as steel producers, there’s millions of dollars in exports of steel at stake, a few million (dollars) also of aluminum exports. If this trade war spirals out to affect other industries, then our big export-reliant industries like ag (and) manufacturing could be at risk….

“We’re in a different era for negotiation with Trump. This isn’t bureaucrats and technocrats sitting down and hammering out ... dispute settlement minutiae any more. This is an all-consuming over-the-air, over social media, pop culture kind of dispute we’re now in. And I think the only way for Canada to cut through all that noise is for us to send a unified message.”

– NDP Leader Wab Kinew


“I appreciate the prime minister’s leadership toward finding a collaborative solution with President Trump.

"Our prime minister was elected to defend Canada’s interests and I fully support his response to the U.S. administration’s positioning on NAFTA.”

– Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman.


“The main concern, speaking as a farmer, is that it creates such uncertainty for what is going to happen in the future. If you look at even something as simple as the price of our (farm) implements and the price of steel ...Anything that affects the price of steel is going to negatively affect how much we pay for our machinery...

"We’ve had such a strong and good relationship with the United States over the last number of years with access for exporting our grain and livestock. Any arguments or concerns that are coming from (U.S. President Donald Trump's) office just creates a lot of uncertainty in the market place. And when that happens then you have more volatility than what we are already seeing in the world markets.

“(Trump's) stance with supply management…we’re already making concessions on the world market with trade negotiations in dairy specifically. We certainly don’t want to see any more concessions. We need that protection in our supply management in Canada.”

– Jill Verwey, Portage la Prairie farmer and vice-president of Keystone Agricultural Producers


"In terms of the (U.S.) tariffs on (Canadian) steel and aluminum, I can tell you it’s really unfortunate because, nationally, it’s not like one country has a significant advantage over the other…One of the things we import a lot is specialty steels that are meant for certain products. And certainly in Manitoba we have manufacturers that import steel, process it, add value and re-export it to the U.S. and other countries.

“These are complicated, significant supply chains. If they get disrupted by these one-off arbitrary decisions…people on both sides of the border, companies and employees, are going to suffer because of it….There’s about 2,000 employees (in Manitoba) in the steel and aluminum industry…If there are tariffs generally -- could that result, not immediately, but in some long-term unemployment? The answer is yes, it’s possible….”

– Don Leitch, president and CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba

But the House of Commons wasn't the only place Trudeau found support. A former U.S. ambassador to Canada called on Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro to apologize for saying "there's a special place in hell" for Trudeau, whom he accused of practising "bad-faith diplomacy" at the weekend G7 summit in Quebec.

"As the former U.S. ambassador to Canada I am calling on Peter Navarro to formally and publicly apologize to @JustinTrudeau and more importantly the Canadian people for his insulting and inappropriate remarks," tweeted Bruce Heyman, who was ambassador under former president Barack Obama.

Average Americans weighed in as well on Twitter, using a "#ThanksCanada" hashtag to recount all the reasons they appreciate Canada.

Trudeau himself was nowhere to be seen Monday, taking a break after hosting the tense, three-day summit, to which Trump arrived late, left early and then upended with a Twitter tirade from Air Force One. But Trudeau's absence was also likely part of a deliberate strategy to not add fuel to the Trump fire.

Former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore, a member of the government's advisory group on NAFTA, hailed Trudeau's approach, refusing to react to "the noise, the bluster, the Twitter, the emotional outbursts."

He said there's still hope that stalled negotiations for a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement can be revived, provided Canada stays calm and measured in response to Trump's rants.

"Don't take the bait, don't dance this dance of countervailing insults and emotional outbursts. It's not the right approach," Moore said.

"Stay calm, keep moving forward, be the adult and come back with meaningful and substantive policies at the table that makes sense to arrive at an appropriate NAFTA outcome."

Similarly, former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, also a member of the NAFTA advisory group, said Trudeau is doing the right thing.

"The approach of just keeping a cool head and continuing to be constructive and productive and staying at the table and offering innovative, creative ideas to get to a resolution in the renegotiation of NAFTA is the best way, I think — the most effective way to save the current NAFTA accord."

Ambrose said the government needs to consider what more it's willing to put on the NAFTA table, keeping in mind that "what's at stake is just so much bigger than our pride. This is about our economy and millions and millions of jobs."

As well, she said the government should accelerate work on its Plan B in the event that Trump blows up NAFTA or follows through on threats to impose tariffs on autos and auto parts — a move Ambrose said would be devastating to Canada's economy. Among other things, she said the government should be preparing to keep pace with corporate tax cuts and tax breaks south of the border.

"There are things we can't control, and Mr. Trump is one of them, but we can control tax policy, for instance; regulatory policy, for instance; and we are now less competitive."

After Trump left the G7 gathering, he lashed out at Trudeau via Twitter, calling him "very dishonest and weak," among other things. The president also repeated claims that Canada overtaxes American dairy products under its supply management system and complained about Canadian automobiles flooding the U.S. market.

Navarro and Trump's chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, took to the television talk show circuit Sunday to reinforce Trump's message. They accused Trudeau of betraying Trump and stabbing him in the back.

Trump continued with his tweets overnight, railing against countries that he said have trade surpluses with the United States, even as he was preparing for a crucial one-on-one summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

"Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades, while our Farmers, Workers & Taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay?" he wrote.

"Not fair to the PEOPLE of America!"

Liberal MP and former dairy farmer Wayne Easter said there was a real sense of panic building in his P.E.I. riding over the implications of Trump's pronouncements following his departure from the G7 gathering.

"There's a lot of concern being expressed about where this might go," Easter said as he entered the House of Commons.

"On the steel tariffs I have a couple of fairly substantial operations in my own riding that are very worried (about the U.S. penalties). They're also worried about the retaliatory measures that we will take."

At the same time, Easter said, business owners were expressing support for the Trudeau government in trying to de-escalate what has become a trade war. And he urged Canada's industrial leaders to remain calm in the face of ongoing threats from the U.S president.

Trump's attacks have Canadian businesses that use aluminum and steel very worried, said Ontario Conservative MP John Brassard, who added that there is real concern that there will be serious job implications in very short order.

"I know my colleagues are hearing from numerous businesses and manufacturers across the country very similar stories, that this trade dispute is probably two weeks away from affecting Canadians in a very real way," he said.

The United States has imposed 25 per cent tariffs on steel from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, and 10 per cent tariffs on aluminum.

The Trudeau government has announced it will impose dollar-for-dollar, retaliatory tariffs on metals and a range of other U.S. products by July 1.

History

Updated on Monday, June 11, 2018 at 5:39 PM CDT: Adds factbox

5:59 PM: Updates sidebar

6:04 PM: Adds photo to sidebar

7:31 PM: Adds photo to sidebar

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