OP-ED: Protecting steelworkers: why, and how, we’re doing it

PM Trudeau and MP Terry Sheehan visit Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie. May 24, 2019.

The steel industry has been in the news a lot lately — and there’s good reason for it. Since being unfairly singled out by American tariffs just over a year ago, steelworkers (not to mention their families and friends) have been worried about their future and long-term success. I worried too. In fact, everyone here in the Sault knows how important the industry is for us, and how Algoma Steel and Tenaris are a central part of our local economy.

The good news: we have a government that isn’t afraid to fight on the side of workers. On the same day the States announced their tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, we took action with our own counter-tariffs. And in the months that followed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of our Liberal team went to bat for the industry — refusing to let a new NAFTA agreement move forward while the dark cloud of tariffs hung over the industry.

As Co-Chair of the All-Party Steel Caucus, I sat down with workers, business owners and experts to see what we could do to help the industry stay strong in this turbulent time — like investing $2.1 billion to help steel, aluminum and manufacturing businesses keep the good jobs that are so important to the Sault.

In the end, our plan worked. Instead of backing down and taking a hands-off approach (like my Conservative colleagues wanted), we sent a clear message to the world: if you want access to Canada’s talented workforce and natural resources, then you need to work with us, not against us.

That was the message we took to our trading partner south of the border, and we were successful there too. This past month, the U.S. agreed to remove all tariffs on steel, an outcome that critics thought was very unlikely.

But as we know in the Sault, you shouldn’t underestimate steelworkers, or any Canadian for that matter. When we work together, we win together.

Still, I know many of you don’t feel out of the woods yet. We beat this round of tariffs, but the future remains uncertain. That’s why our government just announced legislation that would make sure we can protect workers and their jobs from risks like new tariffs and potential surges in steel imports.

The legislation will give us the ability to respond quickly and appropriately should it be found that a surge of imports is harming — our could harm — our workers and producers. It’s the right thing to do for not just steelworkers, but for all Canadians whose jobs and livelihoods are on the line.

We also believe that workers and families shouldn’t have to wait months and months to feel protected, so we’re asking all political parties to support this legislation so that it can pass quickly — before the end of the current parliamentary session.

From the very first day we took office, our government has used every tool at our disposal to protect Canadian jobs and create new ones. Thanks to our investments and the hard work of Canadians, more than a million new jobs have been created since the last election.

That’s what can happen when a government puts people first — something we’ve been proud to do for the last three years, and something I hope we have the privilege of doing for many more.

-Terry Sheehan, Member of Parliament

Sault Ste. Marie



  1. No one wants to say or realize that the hated Trump woke the Liberal’s up with the tariffs he put on steel. The dumping of steel by China and Mexico has being going on for a long time. The Liberals address it now when it could of being addressed long before this, it’s not like they weren’t asked to.

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