Despite growing U.S. support for Buy America policies, Premier Kathleen Wynne has vowed to fight for Ontario jobs by lobbying with her political counterparts across the border.
Wynne made the comments Thursday after a roundtable meeting with economic development leaders in Windsor, Ont. Her visit also included a multi-million dollar announcement of provincial and federal funding for Ford Motor Company of Canada at the Essex Engine Plant.
The premier said the link between the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the competitiveness of the province, particularly southern Ontario, was the main focus of the meeting. She also heard many concerns about cross-border movement becoming more difficult in recent months.
Wynne said she and her team are reaching out to political and business leaders in New York to reinforce the importance of trade between the two regions.
"Always in these kinds of negotiations, there's the dangers of unintended consequences," Wynne said of the Buy America policies. "We're looking to make it very clear how important the Ontario Market is to New York and vice versa."
Buy America hurts everyone
Buy America policies will only hurt businesses in both New York and in Ontario, said Brad Duguid, the province's minister of economic development.
Standing next to Wynne after the meeting, Duguid reinforced the premier's message, stressing the importance of maintaining trade with U.S. partners.
"We've collectively worked too hard to see some of the risks involved in some of the issues south of the border take that away," he said. "There is an enlightened self interest for ... our U.S. neighbours to ensure we have an unfettered border."
Standing alongside Stephen MacKenzie, CEO of the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation, Wynne said she also heard plenty of discussion about new challenges people are having crossing the border, something she promised to bring up with her American counterparts.
Choosing a border city like Windsor as the site for the latest roundtable discussion was important, MacKenzie told journalists after the meeting.
Premier Wynne also talked about the confidence investors are showing in Windsor after many years of economic recession and thousands of lost jobs, the majority of which coming from manufacturing and more specifically the auto sector.
"Windsor is a great success story," Wynne said, referring to the importance of investing in the Essex Engine Plant. "Five years ago the pundits and the prophets were saying the plant was dead — this region was not coming back as an auto powerhouse, but that's just not the case."