The Canadian government has a message for U.S. President Donald Trump: Back off or pay the price.
On Thursday, the U.S. slapped new steel and aluminum tariffs on Canadian exports to the U.S., but in a rousing speech, which highlighted Canada’s long and storied history with their “steadfast ally,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to slap back.
“Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable,” a stern Trudeau said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland followed suit by unveiling Canada’s plan — the “strongest trade action” in the post-war era against the U.S. — that includes dollar-for-dollar countermeasure tariffs on up to $16.6B worth of U.S. imports starting July 1 until the Trump administration relents its position.
Canada’s retaliatory goal would be to include products such as maple syrup, beer kegs, whisky and toilet paper, according to CBC News.
“This is a very strong response, it is a proportionate response, it is perfectly reciprocal. This is a very strong Canadian action in response to a very bad U.S. decision,” Freeland said.
The move follows through on a U.S. threat to impose tariff of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on imported aluminum. The U.S. has opted to withdraw its exemption for its NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico, and the new tariffs will come into effect on June 1.
From ‘steadfast ally’ to sour grapes
Trudeau and Freeland were particularly incensed by the U.S. decision to invoke Section 232 of U.S. for its decision, citing national security concerns. Freeland called the U.S. move “specious and unprecedented use of Section 232,” adding the decision is “more significant than the administration realizes.”
Section 232 investigations fall under the U.S. Trade Expansion Act of 1962. These probes are undertaken by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce in order to determine how imports are affecting U.S. national security. The secretary can make recommendations to the president, and if the president agrees, he can implement changes to adjust imports.
But Trudeau shot down the notion that Canada could possibly be viewed as a threat to U.S. national security. After all, the prime minister had previously reminded the Trump administration there’s Canadian aluminum in American jets and Canadian steel in U.S. armoured vehicles.
“That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable,” he said. “For 150 years, Canada has been America’s most steadfast ally.”
The prime minister acknowledged the long history these two countries share as allies with a powerful reminder.
“From the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan, we have fought and died together.”
Trudeau’s gloves are off with Trump
Trudeau called the tariffs “an affront to the long-standing security partnership between Canada and the United States” while insisting the retaliatory actions were not about punishing the American people.
“As we have consistently said, we will always protect Canadian workers and Canadian interests,” the prime minister explained.
Before he concluded his statement, Trudeau had a parting shot for Trump.
“We have to believe that at some point their common sense will prevail, but we see no sign of that in this action today by the U.S. administration.”
What do you think of Canada’s response to U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Canada? Do you think the Trudeau administration reacted strong enough, or do you think an even mightier stance is necessary to defend Canadian industries and workers? What does the future hold for Canada-U.S. relations? Let us know what you think by voting in the poll above or by having your say in the comment section below.