Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said today that relations between Canada and the United States are at their lowest point in decades – a development that threatens to slow Canada’s growth and derail some sectors of the economy.
Speaking at a virtual event with Nova Scotia chambers of commerce, O’Toole said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not done much to stop the United States from pursuing criminal policy. O’Toole pointed to a list of complaints, including recent increases in conifer tariffs and an ongoing dispute over PEI potatoes.
In November, the U.S. Department of Commerce doubled the amount of duty it imposes coniferous timber coming from Canada – a significant escalation in the years-long battle over this problem. Washington claims that Canadian manufacturers dump their product in the US at subsidized prices, which undercuts their US counterparts.
Last month faced threats from the US, Canada voluntarily stopped the export of fresh potatoes from PEI after a wart fungus was discovered on two of the province’s farms.
And last week, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office claimed victory when Canada lost a battle over trade quotas for dairy products before a dispute panel between the Canada-US-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
These trade losses follow US President Joe Biden’s previous decision to cancel permits for the Keystone XL pipeline – a multi-billion dollar blow to Alberta’s oil patch. The Biden administration has also done little to stop Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, from trying to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline – a vital artery that supplies oil products and natural gas to power huge parts of the Canadian economy. .
“We have never in modern Canadian history seen the relationship between Canada and the United States at such a low point. We have just lost a recent trade battle in terms of supply management – we have lost on agriculture. We lose on forestry products. There have been steel and aluminum tariffs. and Buy America, which has made us lose out on manufacturing, O’Toole said, pointing to a U.S. government policy of shifting government procurement to U.S. companies.
O’Toole said that tight supply chains between Canada and the United States have also resulted in higher consumer prices at home.
“Since the 1960s, Canada has had an integrated supply chain, particularly in manufacturing, with the United States, and we should restore that relationship and ensure that supply chain shortages – whether microchips or food – are resolved on a Canada-US basis.” he said. “It would begin to ease the pressure we see with inflation.”
While lamenting the state of bilateral relations, O’Toole rejoiced at the apparent defeat of Biden’s signature domestic legislation, the Build Back Better Act.
To The $ 1.9 trillion bill included a significant tax deduction up to $ 12,500 worth of buyers of new electric vehicles (EVs) – as long as these cars are made by union workers in the United States. That credit had the potential to ruin the Canadian auto industry.
“Fortunately, the Build Back Better Plan was held back by a U.S. senator,” O’Toole said, referring to U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat. “Mr. Biden’s plan would have unfairly helped the manufacture of electric cars in the United States.”
Before Manchin said he would vote against the bill and the tax deductions – the US Senate is equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, and his support was central to the passage of the bill – the Canadian government promised to take strong retaliatory measures.
In a statement to CBC News, a spokesman for International Trade Secretary Mary Ng said the government “will not learn from the Conservatives when it comes to defending Canadian interests.”
“When we retaliated against disloyal US steel and aluminum tariffs, the Conservatives called on us to stop fighting back. When we negotiated a better CUSMA deal, the Conservatives wanted Canada to capitulate to US demands,” Alice Hansen said. .
“In a relationship as big and significant as the one we have with the United States, there will always be challenges. We have worked together and solved many of these in the past, and that work continues, and we will continue to get it done.” “
In terms of needle timber, Ng recently filed a challenge under CUSMA, the North American Trade Pact, against the new U.S. levies on needle timber. Canadian and U.S. officials are also scheduled to meet this week to negotiate an end to the dispute over PEI potatoes.
This is not the first time the opposition leader has lamented Trudeau’s handling of the bilateral relationship. At the North American summit in November, Biden said Canada was one of his “easiest” conditions, a comment that prompted O’Toole to call Trudeau a “pushover” and noted that “a one-way street is pretty easy.”
“It is no wonder that President Biden said that Canada under this Prime Minister is his ‘easiest’ relationship. It is easy for the United States to win under this government,” O’Toole said in a December speech in the House of Commons.
“The current Prime Minister has led our country through the steepest decline in Canada-US relations in the modern age over three different administrations,” O’Toole said in another speech in November.
“It’s easy for the United States to dominate, easy for the United States to win with the current prime minister and easy to ignore Canada under the current liberal government.”