02/13/2015 11:28 EST | Updated 04/15/2015 05:59 EDT

Buy America feud: Prince Rupert says it doesn't agree with feds

The Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce is distancing itself from the federal government's recent move to block a Buy America policy — a decision that has cost the city of Prince Rupert an upgrade to its ferry terminal.

The State of Alaska was slated to renovate the ferry terminal using American-made steel, iron and manufactured products, but it cancelled the project last month after the Canadian government — which found the requirement to use only U.S.-products unacceptable — issued an order that would have prevented the project from continuing unless the dispute was resolved.  

In an open letter to the people of Alaska published online this week, Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce president John Farrell wrote, "We would like to make clear that not all Canadians share the view voiced by our federal and provincial leaders over the last few weeks."

"We stand to lose from this controversy," Farrell said in an interview with Daybreak North. "We could lose trade and commerce opportunities and we could also lose good will between neighbours."

Farrell said Prince Rupert enjoys a "really good" business relationship with Alaska, and the city sends representatives over every year to participate in Fourth of July celebrations.  

"The letter was really written to make sure Alaskans understood that we've enjoyed that good relationship, we want to continue that good relationship, and we also want to make sure that we remain the southern terminus for the Alaska Marine Highway," he said.

Federal International Trade Minister Ed Fast has said the Buy America policy is protectionist and an affront to Canadian sovereignty.

The terminal and ferry service between Alaska and Prince Rupert has been operated by the Alaska Marine Highway for more than half a century.

To hear the full interview with John Farrell, click on the audio labelled: Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce distances itself from anti-Buy America sentiment