Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says she’s been ‘heartened’ by the blowback coming out of the Republican Party following President Donald Trump’s imposition of steep new tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel.
“There have been some very heartening responses already in the United States,” Freeland said Friday in an interview with The West Block‘s Eric Sorensen.
“We’ve heard from some senior republicans. People like Orrin Hatch, the chairman of the Senate finance committee, people like Kevin Brady, the chairman of the House ways and means committee. And these are two key people, because it is through their two committees that any trade legislation is passed.”
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Both men spoke out strongly after the White House confirmed that Canada’s reprieve from steep tariffs on steel and aluminum was at an end, Freeland noted.
“That’s a big deal,” she said. “They are both Republicans. They are both senior voices in their party.”
As of Friday morning, Canadian steel is subject to a 25 per cent levy on steel imports and 10 per on aluminum. In Ottawa, the decision — which also affects Mexico and the European Union — was branded “unacceptable,” “punitive,” and just plain “bad.”
The Canadian government immediately retaliated with dollar-for-dollar tariff countermeasures, slapping new duties on everything from beer kegs to insecticides. Ottawa is also planning to challenge the U.S. tariffs under both NAFTA’s Chapter 20 and the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement process.
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Alberta United Conservative leader Jason Kenney and former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, both of whom have stood in strong opposition to the Liberals on other files, said they will fully back Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response to Trump.
Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, in contrast, said Canada wasn’t ready for the U.S. decision, adding Trudeau had “failed.”
“At the end of the day, this isn’t about Canada,” Freeland told Sorensen. “This is about the United States and this U.S. administration and a posture it has chosen to take with regard to its closest allies in the world.”
Freeland pointed out that on Friday, one of the president’s own senior economic advisors said publicly that he sees this as “a trade discussion, as a conversation among friends, and that he thought things could be resolved in the coming weeks or months.”
Asked if there’s any way to get what Canada wants while avoiding embarrassment for Trump, Freeland said Canadians have always excelled at finding win-win solutions.
“We are good at finding outcomes that work for everyone, and that has been our attitude towards this administration from day one,” the minister said.
“At the same time, we are also very clear that this action on Thursday was an illegal move by the United States and we are very clear that Canada has taken a very strong response. It’s the right thing to do.”