Trump tariff tirade has MPs united across party lines, urging calm
Politicians across Canada, the US and Europe show solidarity with Trudeau.
OTTAWA — US President Donald Trump’s name-calling trade tirade had members of Parliament on both sides of the Commons calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stand firm against tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum and threats against dairy producers and automakers.
A media statement by one of Trump’s top White House advisers that there was a “special place in hell” for Trudeau also had a former US ambassador to Canada demanding an apology.
Trade adviser Peter Navarro let fly with incendiary comments against the prime minister on Fox News June 10, where he also described Trudeau as “weak” and “dishonest” a day after the G7 summit wrapped up in Quebec.
“As the former US ambassador to Canada I am calling on Peter Navarro to formally and publicly apologize to Justin Trudeau and more importantly the Canadian people for his insulting and inappropriate remarks,” said Bruce Heyman, who was ambassador under former president Barack Obama.
Liberal MP and former dairy farmer Wayne Easter said a real sense of panic is building in his PEI riding over the implications of Trump’s pronouncements following his departure from the G7 gathering.
“There’s a lot of concern being expressed about where this might go,” Easter said as he entered the House of Commons.
“On the steel tariffs I have a couple of fairly substantial operations in my own riding that are very worried (about the US penalties). They’re also worried about the retaliatory measures that we will take.”
At the same time, Easter said, business owners were expressing support for the Trudeau government in trying to de-escalate what has become a trade war. And he urged Canada’s industrial leaders to remain calm in the face of ongoing threats from the US president.
After Trump left the G7 gathering in Quebec he lashed out at Trudeau’s closing statement, calling him “very dishonest and weak,” among other things.
The president also repeated claims that Canada overtaxes American dairy products under its supply management system and complained about Canadian automobiles entering the US market.
Trump continued with his tweets overnight, railing against countries that he said have trade surpluses with the US.
“Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades, while our Farmers, Workers & Taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay?” he wrote.
“Not fair to the PEOPLE of America!”
In his summit statement, Trudeau called US tariffs imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum imports “insulting” – a word he had used several times in the last two weeks to describe the American premise that Canada poses a national security threat to the US.
Trump’s attacks have Canadian businesses that use aluminum and steel very worried, said Ontario Conservative MP John Brassard, who added that there is real concern that there will be serious job implications in very short order.
“I know my colleagues are hearing from numerous businesses and manufacturers across the country very similar stories, that this trade dispute is probably two weeks away from affecting Canadians in a very real way,” he said.
The US has imposed 25% tariffs on steel from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, and 10% tariffs on aluminum.
The Trudeau government has announced it will impose retaliatory tariffs on metals and a range of other US products by July 1.
Former Conservative cabinet minister Jason Kenney, now the leader of the United Conservative Party in Alberta, also expressed solidarity with Trudeau.
“One thing I think we all recognize about President Trump is he does not respect weakness,” Kenney said in Calgary, where he was attending the Global Petroleum Show.
“So I think Prime Minister Trudeau hit the right note. He was polite but firm that Canada will defend our economic interests – and, by the way, every other major industrialized democracy is on the same page as Canada.”
Earlier June 11, the European Union backed Trudeau, with European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas saying the EU “stands fully behind” the joint statement issued at the end of the summit.
“The European Union will continue to stand up for an international, rules-based, multilateral system,” Schinas said.
He added that EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker thanks Trudeau “for the excellent preparation and chairing of this challenging summit.”
In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan said he hopes Trump will reconsider his trade policies.
“I would hope that he would reflect on what his closest allies are saying… Not just the U.K. but Canada, Germany, Japan—these aren’t foes, these are friends,” he told The Associated Press at a technology conference.
“When there’s a trade war, everyone’s a loser.”
With files from The Associated Press