Canadians who think Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is standing up for Canadians against U.S. President Donald Trump over dairy tariffs have it wrong. Trudeau is standing up for Quebec against the Rest of Canada. It is Trump who is standing up for Canadians.
Canadians are also wrong to think the U.S. has been unreasonable in the NAFTA negotiations, as would be evident if not for our sense of entitlement. Americans don’t owe us a living and they do owe it to themselves to look after their own.
If Canada’s negotiators want to do what’s best for Canada, they should stop posturing before they do more damage to our industries. For starters, they should stop misrepresenting the U.S. position on steel and aluminum tariffs. The U.S. never claimed that Canada represents a national security threat, as Trudeau keeps repeating. To the contrary, the U.S. has specifically said these tariffs are not aimed at any one country: without tariffs to protect American steel and aluminum from foreign suppliers, these industries, which America needs for national defence, would go bankrupt.
The U.S. was delaying steel and aluminum tariffs on our industries pending the NAFTA negotiations but, instead of making our case straight-up at the negotiating table, Canada decided to lobby the U.S. Congress and U.S. media and to try to run out the clock on the Trump administration. For good measure, Trudeau called the U.S. request for a sunset clause that would require NAFTA to be renewed every five years “totally unacceptable” and in late May, Trudeau high-handedly scrapped a plan to meet with Trump because of it. The strategy backfired, damaging our steel and aluminum industries. Seeing the stalling, the U.S. imposed the tariffs.