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'Mr. Trump doesn't worry us', says Canadian ambassador

In this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrive for a round table meeting in Watford, Hertfordshire, England. (Evan Vucci / AP Photo, File) In this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrive for a round table meeting in Watford, Hertfordshire, England. (Evan Vucci / AP Photo, File)
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As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues the "Team Canada" charm offensive to U.S. lawmakers and business leaders, Canada's ambassador to the United States downplayed the effect of another Trump presidency on Canada.

"Mr. Trump doesn't worry us. We were able to work with him effectively," Kirsten Hillman told reporters at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) conference in Philadelphia.

Hillman pointed to the ability of Canada to successfully renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement known as CUSMA. The trade deal between Canada, Mexico and the United States came into effect July 1, 2020 after many rounds of negotiations.

In 2018, then U.S. President Trump slapped punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and other allies, under Section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act of 1962. That provision allows the U.S. to impose tariffs where it feels national security is threatened.

It's why the ideal of trade disputes with the U.S. is no longer a hypothetical question and the Liberal government believes it can handle those types of irritants.

"We worked directly to put pressure on the American administration to highlight that this was something that was hurting them, every bit as much as it was hurting us and we got President Trump to lift those tariffs," Trudeau told reporters.

Recently, on the campaign trail, Trump has promised to impose 10 per cent import duties on goods from across the globe if he's elected president in November. A recent Scotiabank report warned that a trade war could result in 3.6 per cent drop in GDP for Canada.

However, Trudeau told reporters his pitch to U.S. lawmakers and business leaders is that tariffs hurt them too.

"The best argument as to why Canada shouldn't be hit with tariffs or punitive protectionist measures is that it would hurt American jobs as well," said Trudeau.

The prime minister delivered that message in his speech to members of the SEIU conference underlining that in 2023, trade between Canada and the U.S. topped $1.3 trillion.

Trudeau drove that message home in a meeting with Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro, noting that Canada is the state's number one export destination, with exports to our country more than the total of the next four countries combined.

The meeting with the Democratic governor is just one example of Canada's effort to appeal to American politicians at the state and municipal level to highlight the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship.

"We are always in the process of making sure that those elected official who make policy understand at a very detailed level within the communities that they represent, how the relationship with Canada is a source of strength for them,” Hillman told reporters. 

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