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Canada threatens to block US ferry project over steel requirements

Terminal sits on Canadian soil that's leased by the state of Alaska.


JUNEAU, Alaska — The Canadian government has signed an order that would block the state of Alaska from updating a ferry terminal unless the two sides resolve an ongoing dispute over the use of US steel in the project.

The project is on Canadian soil that is leased by the state in BC. The port at Prince Rupert is part of the Alaska Marine Highway System.

The vast majority of construction funding for the project is expected to come from the Federal Highway Administration, which has “Buy America” requirements for steel, iron and manufactured products used in projects it funds. The remainder would come from the state.

Canadian officials have said Canadian metal suppliers should not be excluded from work on Canadian soil, and they’ve suggested the state seek a waiver of the “Buy America” provision, but Gov. Bill Walker has not seen a need for one. Another option would be for the state to fund the project itself, but it faces multibillion-dollar budget deficits because of the plunge in oil prices.

In a statement, Canada’s minister of international trade, Ed Fast, called the application of “Buy America” provisions on Canadian soil an “affront to Canadian sovereignty.”

“We remain committed to working with our US partners to resolve this unacceptable situation and call on them to seek a waiver of the Buy America restrictions,” he said. “However, we are prepared to exercise this order to defend Canadian interests.”

Walker said he has been in communication with the Canadian ambassador to the US, Gary Doer.

“I think we’ll get through this,” Walker said. “It’s a little bit of a bump in the road, as far as that project, but ‘Buy America’ is there for a reason, when it’s our funds.”

© 2015 The Canadian Press

3 Comments » for Canada threatens to block US ferry project over steel requirements
  1. The North American Free Trade Agreement was supposed to eliminate provisions such as “buy American” from government funded projects, where we are concerned. We are supposed to have equal, (i.e. national treatment) access to government procurement in the USA, as they are supposed to be accorded the same access in Canada. This is what happens, when Democrats run the White House. “Buy American” came back into fashion when Obama and his union buddies took over.

  2. David says:

    No ,Buy American has always been there for federal projects that include FAA & Transportation .
    A waiver is possible under strict guidelines .
    Even when US Steel was in operation in Hamilton it was considered of foreign origin.
    Free trade, not really!

  3. Lyle Craver says:

    I completely agree – Canadian steel is supposed to be exempt from ‘Buy American’ provisions ANYWHERE in the United States. What is particularly obnoxious about this one is that they’re trying to impose ‘Buy American’ provisions for a project to be built in THIS country.

    You know as well as I do that the Americans would be threatening war if TD Bank was building new branches in the US and advertising “no US contractor need apply” and when queried replied “It’s a little bit of a bump in the road, as far as that project, but ‘Buy Canadian’ is there for a reason, when it’s our funds.” TD would never do this as they know darned well what the US reaction would be. The Governor of Alaska is asleep at the switch if he thinks Canadians would react calmly to this outrage.

    Politically I’m more Democrat in US terms than Republican but no question the Republicans have a far better record as free traders than Democrats.

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