Trudeau's team urges Trump's inner circle to scrap tariffs
Published Wednesday, March 7, 2018 10:00PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 7, 2018 10:45PM EST
With the fate of U.S. President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs set to be revealed Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet have worked overtime lobbying Trump’s inner circle to go easy on Canada.
Trudeau, who spoke privately with Trump about the proposed tariffs earlier this week, is taking his pitch public next week. Trudeau will visit four cities in Quebec, southern Ontario and Saskatchewan, all of which are home to steel and aluminum workers.
Across the border, the prime minister’s top ministers and diplomats have pleaded Canada’s case to Republican leaders with close ties to the White House.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland discussed the tariffs with U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan has vocally opposed the idea of the tariffs and called for a “more surgical approach” that would avoid a potential trade war.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has also spoken about the potential tariffs with his counterpart, Gen. James Mattis, and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has brought the issue to Energy Secretary Rick Perry in Texas.
From a diplomatic perspective, United Nations ambassador Marc-Andre Blanchard has spoken to U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley about the issue. Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton was expected to have dinner Wednesday with U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
Those across-the-board efforts may have had traction. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that Canada and Mexico may get a special “carve-out” that would protect them from the tariffs.
Meanwhile, Trump’s trade and manufacturing adviser Peter Navarro said Canada and Mexico would get a temporary exemption, in an interview on Fox Business.
It’s still unclear whether that means Canada will be granted an exemption. A formal announcement on how the tariffs will be rolled out is expected Thursday afternoon.
Trump’s tariffs have come under fire from his own party, with 107 congressional Republicans signing a letter Wednesday expressing major concerns.
Trump has floated the idea of a 25 per cent tariff on steel and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminum. Canada is the top supplier of both to the U.S., with $15 billion a year in combined sales.
Trump has brushed off fears that his proposal could spark a trade war. The president called trade wars a “good” thing that would lead to an “easy” victory for the U.S.
Top economic advisor Gary Cohn left the White House Tuesday over disagreements with Trump on the policy.
With files from The Canadian Press