US President Donald Trump levied metals tariffs affecting steel and aluminum imports of 25% and 10% respectively on the pretext of national security. Objectively speaking, it’s a rather silly move to claim that importing raw materials from Canada presents a threat to America’s national security, with Canada being a long time ally and major trade partner.
On top of that, he chose to take a swipe at the country’s Prime Minister following the G7 summit, which Trump honored with an abbreviated attendance followed by a withdrawal of his backing of the summit’s statement on matters of trade and climate among others. In the wake of these actions, Canada responded with tit-for-tat countermeasures amounting to some $13 billion, and now Canadians themselves are weighing in by withholding their funds from the purchase of American goods and from tourism in America.
This week, Canada implemented import tariffs on U.S. goods worth almost $13 billion. It is in retaliation for steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the United States. The items targeted by Canada are meant to maximize the political pain on states that voted for Donald Trump.
On a grassroots level, Canadians are also trying to make a statement with their wallets by boycotting U.S. goods and travel to the U.S.
CGTN’s Karina Huber reports.
In this Toronto suburb of Halton Hills, the city council recently passed a resolution encouraging its residents to boycott U.S. products. It passed unanimously.
“There’s time you have to show Canadian backbone instead of Canadian backbacon,” said Rick Bonnette, the mayor of Halton Hills.
Bonnette says he pushed for the resolution after the U.S. imposed import tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum for national security reasons. He says the boycott really gained momentum after Donald Trump’s appearance at the June G7 summit near Quebec City.
“The president was sort of like that bad dinner guest – he showed up late, left early and insulted the host,” said Bonnette.
After the meeting, Trump called Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “meek and mild” and “dishonest and weak” in a tweet. It was in response to a statement from Trudeau saying Canadians are polite but won’t be pushed around.
All across Canada people are protesting Trump’s policies with their pocketbooks. On social media, you’ll find hashtags like #TrumpFree and #BoycottUSA. Bonnette admits his mandate to boycott U.S. goods is largely symbolic. It’s not easy to buy Canadian – so much of what you’ll find in stores here is imported from the U.S. Perhaps a more effective way to hit the U.S. economy is to for Canadians to avoid travel there. That’s what Adam Rathwell and his wife are doing. They are about to celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary. They planned to go to Chicago but after the G7 summit they chose Quebec City instead.
“A lot of people in Trump country do rely on tourism and I think that that’s one way that we can kind of get the message out that we are reliant on each other and we’re not the enemy,” said Rathwell.
Canada is the largest source country of international travel to the United States. In 2016, more than 19 million Canadians visited the U.S. Rathwell says boycotting the U.S. pains him. His mother is American and his brother served in the U.S. Marines.
“I want the United States to be better. I want us to be friends again as countries. I want to go to the States but right now I just can’t. My conscience and my morals will not let me go there,” he said.
With tensions between Canada and the U.S. running at a recent all-time high, it’s a sentiment many Canadians can relate to.
Trump is not afraid of offending his allies or of the damage that trade tariffs will and are doing to the American economy, with potential damage in the billions and threatening jobs by the thousands. His tariffs aren’t going to result in the manufacturer of all of the goods that Americans need and buy setting up production facilities in America, but what is much more likely is cost cutting measures being implemented by corporations so affected as well as price increases to help offset those costs, resulting in fewer jobs in manufacturing within America and higher prices goods and commodities. It also means a poorer image of America amongst its allies, and heightened diplomatic tensions therewith.