These are the sorts of things that are supposed to be ironed out in the special relationship between Canada and the United States, the kind of thing that you hope prime minister can call the president up on and fix problems over a phone call. Not this time.
Canada will be part of the promised tariffs on steel and aluminum that President Donald Trump threatened the world with last week. If it comes down as promised later this week it will be a 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminum. Justin Trudeau repeating that this is “unacceptable” over and over again has not worked.
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper on Sunday morning, Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro said there will perhaps be certain exemptions on a case by case basis for business, but no country exclusions.
If you thought Canada could get wiggle room, think again. Navarro was clear as CNN tweeted out.
Peter Navarro on tariff exemptions: “If you exempt Canada, then you have to put big, big tariffs on everybody else.” #CNNSOTU
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) March 4, 2018
So this is how Canada finds out, by watching TV. To me that says the relationship is not where it should be. Hate Donald Trump if you will but he campaigned on doing the sort of thing he is about to do. We had to see this coming and Trump is one man.
Our officials have been saying since this came out on Thursday that they don’t know if Canada will be included. Was there no one in Trudeau’s administration that could have spoken to someone in the Trump administration to get an answer?
Apparently not, which left Trudeau and his trade minister jumping up and down in front of TV cameras saying any such tariffs would be “unacceptable.”
To Canada these measures are unacceptable but that won’t stop Trump from enacting them. The moves may even hurt the US economy but he will have kept his word to voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere that he would stand up for them. And rightly or wrongly, many of them will back this as the president standing up for his workers.
What will our prime minister do for Canadian workers? Change into a new outfit? Show up for a photo op in a hard hat, jeans and a plaid flannel shirt?
It appears to be the only thing Trudeau knows how to do, so I wouldn’t put it past him.