Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to stand up to the âbullyâ in the White House, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair told reporters in Ottawa Tuesday.
But Mulcair, responding to yet another softwood lumber dispute with the United States, was asked several times to clarify what exactly he wants Trudeau to do in light of the U.S. decision to slap punishing duties of up to 24 per cent on lumber imports.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair comments on the softwood lumber dispute in Ottawa on April 25, 2017. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
Mulcair accused Liberals of lacking a plan to respond to the tariffs and inferred several times that Trudeau was not showing enough backbone with U.S. President Donald Trump.
âYou know, when youâre dealing with a bully, at some point youâve got to stop backing up,â Mulcair said. âAnd thatâs all Mr. Trudeau seems to be able to do with President Trump and with the current U.S. administration is just keep backing up.â
The NDP leader noted how Trudeau âcomplimentedâ Trump in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek last week as someone whose can be swayed by good counter-arguments. Those remarks came on the same day Trump blasted Canadaâs dairy policies as a âdisgrace.â
âAt some point, Canadians want our prime minister to stand up for us. Same way Mr. Trump is going to keep pushing, at some point weâve got to say, look, this is a two-way street,â Mulcair said. âAnd weâre going to stand our ground and push back. Mr. Trudeau seems to be incapable of doing that. Thatâs the honest answer.â
CBC reporter Katie Simpson asked Mulcair what pushing back would look like.
âI think it means explaining to the Americans that trade is not a one-way street,â Mulcair said, again accusing Trudeau of giving ground âto that bullyâ instead of pushing back.
âBut what does that look like?â Simpson asked again.
âThat looks like Canada explaining that on dairy the Americans are actually the winners under the current rules,â he said.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair on new softwood lumber duties: "We don't seem to have a plan" for dealing with the new U.S. administration. pic.twitter.com/3AJ5VBFJ8b
â CPAC (@CPAC_TV) April 25, 2017
Trudeau did note in that Bloomberg interview that the U.S. boasts a â$400 million dairy surplus with Canada.â
Mulcair suggested it would be Americans who would lose most if the border closed.
âOn softwood lumber, if the border came to be closed, I know that the price of an American house would skyrocket,â he said. âSo I think that at some point the Americans have to realize that this type of approach is not going to give them anything. Itâs not a one-way street and they canât have everything their way all the time.
âBut Mr. Trudeau seems singularly incapable of delivering that message back.â
The Canadian Pressâ Terry Pedwell asked Mulcair if he was advocating a âtit-for-tat approachâ that would mean Canada shuts down the border for some products.
âWhat I am calling on the government to do is to assume its responsibilities,â Mulcair responded. âHow is it possible that Mr. Trudeau didnât see this coming?â
The Globe and Mailâs Campbell Clark asked Mulcair if there were any substantive measures, beyond âexplaining that trade is not a one-way street,â heâd propose Trudeau take.
Mulcair said the government should agree to the loan guarantees that producers in Ontario and Quebec have requested to help them stay afloat.
Carr's tough talk
âThatâs one concrete example,â Mulcair said. âThe Americans would see that weâre willing to stand up for our industry and it wouldnât have an inflection on the current negotiations.â
Asked again if he is calling for retaliatory measures, Mulcair said the federal government should be coming up with a plan to protect jobs.
Moments earlier, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said the federal government was bracing for job losses in the forestry sector and Employment and Social Development Canada is ready to provide essential services to those impacted.
Carr also promised to push the U.S. to ârescind this unfair and unwarranted trade action.â
At an event in Kitchener, Ont. earlier in the day, Trudeau said his government would continue to remind the U.S. that âmillions of good U.S. jobsâ depend on the flow of goods across the border.
âItâs not just a one-way relationship,â the prime minister said.
With files from The Canadian Press