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Can’t ‘sugar coat’ the ‘offside’ actions of US, investor uncertainty: Morneau

Initiatives aimed at boosting G7 countries' economic future come amid the trade turmoil.


TORONTO—The trade actions of the U.S. government have created uncertainty for investors in G7 countries, but cooler heads and common sense should prevail, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Wednesday.

The minister said it’s a “challenging time” after U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico and Europe, but the government hopes to provide certainty as it works to improve Canada’s relationship with the U.S.

“I can’t in any way sugar coat that for investors… We will work towards making sure that Canada and our other allies are put in a better situation in our relationship with the United States,” Morneau said.

The minister’s comments came during a news conference with Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and institutional investors from the G7, including the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Quebec’s largest pension fund. Together, they announced initiatives aimed at boosting opportunities for women in finance and investment, developing more expertise in infrastructure financing and development and improving climate-related disclosures.

The moves aimed at boosting G7 countries’ long-term economic future comes after the U.S. metals tariffs were put in place last week and Canada’s response of countermeasures on a long list of imported U.S. goods, set to take effect on Canada Day.

While the tariff issues are not expected to have a substantially negative impact in the short term, Ontario Teachers’ chief executive Ron Mock said he’s “not overly excited about the trajectory.”

“I’m still in the camp that cooler heads will prevail and, quite frankly, that self interest will prevail,” he said during the news conference. “Which means that we will start to back away from the trajectory we appear to be on at this point in time.”

Michael Sabia, the CEO of Caisse de Depot du Placement du Quebec, said Ottawa has done “the right thing” in the face of the U.S. government’s actions.

“We will get through this, and I am confident that the world is not going to descend into what’s called a trade war,” he said.

Meanwhile, another issue that looms large for the Canadian economy is the fate of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline, which Ottawa has agreed to acquire from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion with the hope of seeking a buyer down the line.

The Caisse would not comment on a potential purchase, but Ontario Teachers’ did not rule it out.

“If it is an opportunity for our members and for our organization in support of our fiduciary duty, then we will take a look,” Mock told reporters.

“But where we sit today, it is still very, very early days.”

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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