O’Toole says Canada-U.S. Relations have never been worse

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said today that Canada-U.S. Relations are at their lowest in decades, a development that threatens to slow Canada’s growth and derail some sectors of the economy.

Speaking at a virtual event with the Nova Scotia Chambers of Commerce, O’Toole said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had done little to stop the United States from pursuing punitive policies . O’Toole pointed to a list of grievances, including recent lumber tariff hikes and an ongoing Prince Edward Island potato dispute.

In November, the US Department of Commerce doubled the amount of duties it imposes on softwood lumber from Canada – a significant escalation in the years-long struggle over this issue. Washington claims that Canadian producers are dumping their products into the United States at subsidized prices, undercutting their American counterparts.

Last month, in the face of threats from the United States, Canada voluntarily halted exports of fresh potatoes from Prince Edward Island after a wart fungus was discovered on two of the province’s farms.

And just last week, the office of the United States Trade Representative won when Canada lost a battle over trade quotas for dairy products before a dispute settlement committee of the Canada-Accord. United States-Mexico (CUSMA).

The trade losses follow US President Joe Biden’s earlier decision to cancel permits for the Keystone XL pipeline – a multibillion-dollar blow to the Alberta oil field. The Biden administration has also done little to stop Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, from trying to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, a critical artery that provides petroleum products and natural gas to fuel huge parts of the Canadian economy.

“We have never seen Canada-US relations at such a low point in modern Canadian history. We just lost a recent trade battle over supply management – we are losing in agriculture. We are losing forest products. There were tariffs on steel and aluminum and Buy America that cost us on manufacturing, ”O’Toole said, noting a US government policy of shifting government procurement to US companies.

O’Toole said harassed Canada-U.S. Supply chains have also driven up consumer prices in the home.

“Since the 1960s, Canada has had an integrated supply chain, particularly in manufacturing, with the United States and we should reestablish that relationship and ensure that supply chain shortages – qu ‘whether it’s microchips or food – are resolved on a Canada-US basis. he said. “That would start to ease the pressure we see with inflation.”

While bemoaning the state of bilateral relations, O’Toole applauded the apparent defeat of Biden’s iconic national law, the Build Back Better Act.

That $ 1.9 trillion bill included a hefty tax credit worth up to US $ 12,500 for buyers of new electric vehicles (EVs) – provided those cars are made by unionized workers in the states -United. This credit had the potential to devastate the Canadian auto industry.

“Fortunately, the Build Back Better plan was delayed by a US senator,” said O’Toole, referring to US Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia. “Mr. Biden’s plan would have unfairly helped the manufacture of electric vehicles in the United States.”

Before Manchin said he would vote against the bill and the tax credits – the US Senate is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans and his support was central to passing the bill – the government Canada has pledged to take strong retaliatory action.

In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for International Trade Minister Mary Ng said the government “will learn nothing from the Conservatives when it comes to standing up for the interests of Canadians.”

“When we retaliated against unfair US steel and aluminum tariffs, the Conservatives urged us to stop fighting back. When we negotiated a better CUSMA deal, the Conservatives wanted Canada to capitulate to American demands, ”said Alice Hansen.

“In a relationship as broad and meaningful as the one we have with the United States, there will always be challenges. We have worked together and resolved many in the past, and that work continues and we will continue to do so. .. “

On softwood lumber, Ng recently filed a challenge under ACCUM, the North American Trade Pact, against the new US softwood lumber taxes. Canadian and US officials are also due to meet this week to negotiate an end to the Prince Edward Island potato dispute.

US President Joe Biden, right, shakes hands with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they meet in the Oval Office of the White House November 18, 2021 in Washington, DC (Evan Vucci / The Associated Press)

This is not the first time that the Leader of the Opposition has castigated Trudeau’s management of the bilateral relationship. At the North American Leaders’ Summit in November, Biden said Canada was one of his “easiest” relationships, a comment that prompted O’Toole to characterize Trudeau as “push” and point out that “A one-way street is quite easy”.

“It’s no wonder President Biden said Canada under this prime minister was his ‘easiest’ relationship. It’s easy for the United States to win under this government,” O’Toole said in a speech delivered in December in the House of Commons.

“The current Prime Minister has led our country through the most dramatic decline in modern-day Canada-US relations in three different administrations,” O’Toole said in another November speech.

“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.

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