The federal government is ensuring Hamilton steelworkers and steel producers that “we have your back.”
That message was delivered on Friday morning at the Hamilton Steel Summit by Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
Bains also told a few hundred people who gathered for the event at city hall that the government recognizes the potential impact of U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel.
He says it’s an action that “has put a great deal of stress on the steel supply chain and it threatens many, many of the small suppliers and the small businesses in our communities.”
Bains also repeated his government’s pledge to get a good deal for Canadians through ongoing NAFTA negotiations.
The summit also heard from Richard Dearden, a partner with Gowlings law firm and expert in international trade law who notes that “the gloves are off.”
He recommends that federal, provincial and municipal governments “play by the ‘Make America Great Again’ rules — let’s buy Canadian.”
Dearden stresses that the C.D. Howe Institute has estimated a loss of up to $7.3 billion in exports and 6,000 Canadian jobs because of American tariffs.
According to the local chamber of commerce, 10,000 Hamiltonians are employed in the steel sector and another 40,000 work in spinoff jobs.
The United Steelworkers’ Mark Rowlinson echoes the ‘Buy Canadian’ message, saying, “It drives us crazy that we’re building bridges in Montreal and Victoria right now using foreign steel.” He insists, “There’s no reason in the world that should be happening.”