Premier calls U.S. tariffs a 'slap in the face,' urges people to buy Ontario products
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is seen in this photograph. (The Canadian Press)
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford lashed out at U.S. President Donald Trump Friday, blasting the embattled president for re-imposing “backstabbing” aluminum tariffs on Canada in a surprise move this week.
“We’re their number one trading partner in the world. We buy more goods off the United States than China, Japan, and the U.K. combined,” Ford said at his daily briefing with reporters on the COVID-19 situation. “And who does this in times like this? Who tries to go after your closest ally, your closest trading partner, your number one customer in the entire world?”
Ford called the tariffs a “slap in the face” and vowed that Ontario “will come back swinging like they've never seen before.”
“I've always said, I love the American people. But right now for the President to come in and attack us during these times, a pandemic when we need everyone's support, is totally unacceptable,” Ford said.
Ford encouraged Ontarians to preferentially buy Canadian-made products at grocery stores, hardware stores and elsewhere and said Ontario will look to ramp up its local production capacity.
“We may be small, but remember, we're a consumer giant, absolute giant in the world. So folks, please this weekend when you're going into the grocery store, until all the packaging gets changed look on the back, see where it's manufactured. If it's manufactured in Canada, buy it.”
Noting that Canada has a $9 billion trade deficit with the U.S., he said the characterization of the trade relationship being unfair to the U.S. makes one “give your head a shake” and encouraged Ontarians to turn their buying power local.
“We're Team Ontario. We're Team Canada. Get out there and buy Ontario-made products. We will kick their butts all over the place,” Ford said.
Ford said he has spoken with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and encouraged her to put retaliatory tariffs on as many goods as possible.
At her own news conference a short time later, Freeland called the tariffs “unacceptable” and “the last thing anyone needs.”
“These tariffs are unnecessary, unwarranted and entirely unacceptable,” Freeland said. “They should not be imposed.”
She said the justification for imposing them was unfounded.
“Canadian aluminum is in no way a threat to U.S. national security, which remains the ostensible reason for these tariffs, and that is a ludicrous notion,” she said. “On the contrary – Canadian aluminum is essential for U.S. industry, including the U.S. defence industry.”
She said she was cooperating closely with Ford on the file and that Canada will indeed impose dollar-for-dollar tariffs in retaliation, amounting to some $3.6 billion.
In a series of tweets Friday afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he stands with Ford and Freeland against the tariffs.
“Now is the time when Canada and the U.S. should be united in fighting COVID-19 and restarting and rebuilding our economies, not dealing with the negative impacts of a trade war launched by President Trump in the midst of his election and a pandemic,” Tory wrote.
“I encourage all residents to support our economy, our manufacturers and our workers during this difficult time. Buy Toronto-made, buy Ontario-made, buy Canadian-made.”