THE BLOG
03/23/2018 16:53 EDT | Updated 03/23/2018 16:53 EDT

Working Canadians Shouldn't Have To Pay For Trump's Political Theatre

We cannot allow good jobs to be lost so easily, and with such careless disregard from the government of the United States.

Already reeling from a tariff on pulp and paper just two months ago, new U.S. levies against the industry announced recently have dealt a serious blow to a newsprint mill in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland.

Shortly after the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a new 22-per-cent anti-dumping duty on products produced by Kruger in Cornerbrook, as well as on Catalyst in British Columbia, Kruger said it wasn't even allowed to submit evidence to the U.S. government on the issue.

Leah Millis / Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump announces a presidential proclamation placing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports while surrounded by workers from the steel and aluminum industries at the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 8, 2018.

As far as I'm concerned, that shows just how arbitrary trade decisions by the current U.S. administration can be, and must compel Canada's federal government to take strong action. Its efforts on U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs shows it can make a difference.

The new pulp and paper duties follow a 10-per-cent tariff imposed in January. In all, Kruger said the one-two punch of two sets of levies would cost it $30 million. With 65 per cent of its product going to the United States, it could no longer keep operating in the face of this aggressive stand by the Trump government.

The announcement hit the province hard.

"The continued attacks by the United States on Canadian and local industries are unwarranted and punitive," Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball said.

Across the country in British Columbia, Catalyst workers in Port Alberni, Powell River, and Crofton are equally concerned about the future — a fear they share with their entire communities.

We cannot allow ourselves to be left hostage to the reckless polices of a U.S. administration that seems determined to play politics with the lives of working people.

"This is not good news today," said Powell River councillor and finance committee chair Russell Brewer. "Not good at all."

He got that right, and I hope the federal government is listening. The federal government cannot simply stand by while communities in both east and west Canada are left with such uncertain futures.

We cannot allow ourselves to be left hostage to the reckless polices of a U.S. administration that seems determined to play politics with the lives of working people for the sake of a bit of political theatre.

There is just too much at stake. If we allow the American government to keep attacking good jobs in Canada, we will only see more of the same.

Already, we have seen the U.S. attempt to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. Those tariffs were suspended on Thursday until May 1. The federal government had worked to win an exemption for Canada.

unkas_photo via Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump has also made numerous threats against Canada's agriculture industries, and Bombardier aerospace has also been targeted.

Unifor represents thousands of workers affected by the Trump administration's erratic trade policy.

It all makes me believe that no industry, no community and no worker in Canada is safe from the whims of the current U.S. government and its unpredictable approach to trade.

It is, frankly, unconscionable for any government such as the U.S. to play such games with the livelihoods of hundreds of workers across Canada.

Besides those in the mills, workers who harvest the trees will feel the impact, as well as those who drive the trucks that transport the trees to the mills, and the mills' finished products to market. Each of those workers creates more jobs by simply spending their wages in their own communities. The workers who rely on that commerce will also pay the price of these tariffs.

The impact, in short, will be felt by many families and many communities.

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To date, Kruger has not asked for aid from government, but the Newfoundland government has said it would be open to the idea.

In British Columbia, the NDP government has pledged to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the industry and its workers as these tariffs and duties come into place.

In both provinces, local politicians have also been quick to say they are equally committed to building a strong future for their communities.

The federal government needs to do the same, and quickly. The government showed with its swift action to defend steel and aluminum that it can help sway the U.S. in the right direction.

We cannot allow good jobs to be lost so easily, and with such careless disregard from the government of the United States.

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