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58% of Americans oppose Trump tariff on Canadian aluminum: survey

Polling firm Leger says numbers reflect a lack of a clear rationale for the action by the mercurial US president.

August 11, 2020   by Jim Bronskill

Alcoa’s Deschambault, Que. aluminum plant.
Photo: Alcoa

OTTAWA — A new opinion survey suggests Donald Trump’s recent decision to slap a tariff on Canadian raw aluminum is garnering poor reviews on both sides of the border.

In a web survey conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, 58% of American respondents said they disagreed with the 10% import tax.

In what comes as less of a surprise, 90% of Canadians who took part in the survey objected to the White House’s tariff.

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans, 18 or older, who were recruited from an online panel.

Since polls created from internet panels are not random samples, the survey cannot be assigned a margin of error.

The polling firm says that using data from the 2016 census, results were weighted according to age, gender, language spoken, region, level of education and presence of children in the household in order to ensure a representative sample of the population.

Trump announced last week he was reimposing a tax on Canadian raw aluminum because Canada had broken a promise not to flood the US market with the product.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland vehemently denied the dumping claim and said Canada would soon retaliate with $3.6 billion in tariffs on American items that contain aluminum.

“In imposing these tariffs, the United States has taken the absurd decision to harm its own people at a time its economy is suffering the deepest crisis since the Great Depression,” she said.

“Any American who buys a can of beer or a soda or a car or a bike will suffer.”

The comments might help explain why 28% of Americans surveyed said they somewhat disagreed with Trump’s move, while 30% said they totally disagreed.

Jean-Marc Leger, president of the survey firm, suggested the numbers reflect a lack of a clear rationale for the action by the mercurial US president.

“Why the 10%? Why at this moment?” he said. “It looks like another impulsive decision.”

Sixty-nine per cent of Canadians who participated in the survey said they completely disagreed with the tariff, with 21% somewhat opposed.

Seventy per cent of Canadian respondents said Ottawa should fight back by imposing tariffs of its own on US products.

The trade spat shattered the brief harmony between Ottawa and Washington that followed a successful renegotiation of the North American free trade agreement.

While nearly two-thirds of Americans told Leger that Canada and the US benefit equally from their commercial exchanges, only 38% of Canadians supported the notion.

 


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