Minutes after President Donald Trump announced new tariffs on Canadian Steel, ONNtv’s Lou-Anne Young Talked live to Mike Da Prat , President of Local USW 2251 about how this move will impact Canadian Steel , namely Algoma Steel and Sault Ste. Marie.
“It’s not (good for Algoma), Da Prat said. “However, I’ve been dealing with CEOs for a good portion of my life, and the Americans have elected a CEO as their president. He’s acting like a typical CEO. Which means, when you’re negotiating, you negotiate with force.”
He went on to say that he thinks Canada needs to push back against this imposed tariff.
“I’m hoping that Hydro-Québec and, perhaps what would be appropriate, would be for us to place taxes – our own tariffs – on energy going into the United States,” he said. “Not simply putting tariffs on their products, but if we’re not going to be a preferred partner with the Americans and we’re going to be treated the same as everyone, well then we don’t owe them anything. What we do is, anything you want from us, you have to pay an appropriate price. Not a preferred partner price.”
He spoke about what Canada has done – and continues to do – for the States.
“We have NORAD – the North American Defense- and we were left with all the cleanup. We still have a bunch of pollution up in the North because of it. We allowed the Americans to fly over, we do all kinds of things with the Americans,” he explained. “We’re as proud of our country as the Americans are of theirs. And we were proud of the partnership we had, but apparently the CEO of the United States decided that that’s not necessary anymore.
So, how can Canada push back?
“We push back by making sure that our representatives retaliate,” Da Prat said. “That is the only appropriate reaction to this kind of over aggression.(Canadian officials) have to be firm and they have to be self-confidant, because, let’s face it, Canada is a solitary country. We’re not vessels of the United States. Whether they buy our products or they don’t. And the answer is going to be that they’re going to need our resources, and if we say ‘well, you want to tariff everything we send you, well then we’ll tariff the rest of it. So the negative will affect you also. Let’s see if they can stand alone the way they think they can.”
When asked if he thinks Trump might back off and extend the deadline based on what Trudeau said in his press conference, he said:
“(Canada has) to be firm. You can’t draw a line in the sand and back away from it and let them cross it. The answer’s going to be either we’re partners or we’re not. If we’re not, then we find other markets for our lumber. And China comes to mind. Our steel is going to be hurting, but, once we develop on our own infrastructure improvements in this country, we make it Canadian steel. And move it up again.”
Da Prat said he thinks that these tariffs will hurt the United States just as much as Canada.
“Look at it this way. They’ve had a bunch of natural disasters and they need lumber. They can’t supply it all on their own. So the people who are going to suffer will be their people as much as our people.”
He said he thinks Canada needs start striking trade agreements with other countries.
“Canada needs to realize you can’t sit and tell the workers you have to put up with a global economy, and then continually rely on an internal economy with the United States,” he said. “Why hasn’t Canada developed globally, the way they expect the workforce to? You can’t keep relying on the United States.”
He continued by saying he thinks Canada could develop trading partnerships with Europe, Britain, a host of other countries.
“We have to diversify. The workers are always told ‘think out of the box, you have to change, you have to compete globally, etc.’ Well, guess what? Our country’s going to have to compete globally also. And we can’t simply rely on one trading partner. If we agreed to give each other preferred status, that’s one thing. But we’re not. So what we should do is grow and expand our economy with other countries. If you’re dependent – whatever happens with the Americans is going to happen to us. If we’re going to ride the economy out, it needs to be diverse.”
When Lou-Anne asked him if he thinks this could actually be good for the country, he replied:
“Well it’s going to be rough at the start, but I think over the long term, absolutely. Look at the rest of the world. They don’t lean on the United States the way that we do. They’re going to hurt also, but not as much as we are because we’re so dependent.”
SaultOnline received a statement from Algoma President and CEO Kalyan Ghosh about the imposed tariffs:
We are dismayed by today’s announced US tariff on Canadian steel products.
Canadian steel does not pose a security risk to US national security. On the contrary we are among their greatest allies and a critical supplier to their defense sector.
The North American steel industry is highly integrated and balanced. These tariffs will have serious economic and social ramifications for the entire supply chain on both sides of the border.
There is no question these tariffs will have a damaging impact on Algoma, as well as on our US customers with whom we have long-standing relationships, and on many within our supply chain – be they raw material suppliers or providers of transportation services.
The retaliatory measures announced today against US steel exported to Canada, which we know accounts for nearly 50% of their steel exports, are necessary in order to ensure a level playing field prevails. We only wish the steel surtax would take immediate effect as any lag will have serious market ramifications. Nevertheless, we thank the Canadian government for their continued support for Canadian steel and acknowledge the actions they have already taken to strengthen regulatory measures to prevent circumvention and transshipments.
We remain optimistic that this situation will be short lived as the cost to the North American economy will be significant.