Premiers ask Ottawa to negotiate exemption to ‘damaging’ Buy American policies 

Canada’s premiers want the federal government to seek an exemption from the United States for its Buy American measures.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told reporters that trade was one matter being discussed Wednesday at the annual premiers’ conference.

READ MORE: Canada’s premiers focus on trade, economy as they meet in Saskatoon

“We will be calling on our federal government to provide a stronger leadership role … in asking for an exemption with respect to the Buy American policy that is damaging many of our industries here in Canada,” Moe said at a news conference in Saskatoon.

The Buy American measures require 65 per cent local content on public transportation projects in the U.S. and that assembly be done south of the border.

Story continues below advertisement

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the recent announcement by Bombardier of layoffs at its Thunder Bay, Ont., plant are a direct result.

“This Buy American policy down in the United States is absolutely killing us right now,” Ford said at the conference Wednesday.

READ MORE: Oil pipelines remain contentious as more provinces opposed to federal carbon tax

“We need the federal government to continue to negotiate with the U.S. government.”

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Montreal-based Bombardier is an important company for both provinces.

WATCH: How ‘Buy America, Hire American’ will affect the Canadian economy (April 19, 2017)

Click to play video 'How ‘Buy America, Hire American’ will affect the Canadian economy' How ‘Buy America, Hire American’ will affect the Canadian economy
How ‘Buy America, Hire American’ will affect the Canadian economy

READ MORE: Canada’s premiers meet with Indigenous leaders to talk child and family services

“They had an important contract in the U.S. that is ending and they have (a) rough time getting more contracts in the United States because of the Buy America Act,” Legault said.

Story continues below advertisement

“That is why we all decided together that we need more leadership from the prime minister of Canada to negotiate an exemption.”

On his way into the conference room Wednesday, Ford also said internal trade in Canada is a problem.

READ MORE: No women at table as Canada’s premiers meet in Saskatoon

“Hopefully, by the end of this conference, we’ll be able to knock down those barriers,” Ford said. “I’ve never seen more like-minded premiers sitting around a table than I did last night at dinner.”

The premiers’ gathering, which is three months ahead of the federal election, comes as some conservative leaders are decrying federal energy policies and some are taking Ottawa to court over its carbon tax.