If Donald Trump wants a fight, Canada will give him one — one bottle of ketchup at a time.
Or a basket of peaches, bottle of wine, roll of toilet paper, jar of jam or — well, you get the idea.
What may have started with a social media skirmish over ketchup two years ago came to a head over the past month into an all-out trade war between Canada and the United States.
We cannot let the fight stop here. The challenges posed to our economy by the Trump tariffs are real and ongoing, and so our resolve to push back must be also.
When the United States slapped tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel, Canada did the same to a long list of American goods — including ketchup.
Trump didn't take the hint that Canada will not be bullied, and instead doubled down with a complaint to the World Trade Organization, arguing that his original tariffs were justified because of national security concerns.
What absolute nonsense.
We are each other's largest trading partners and share the longest unprotected border in the world.
Canada and the United States have been allies through two world wars, Korea, Afghanistan and more. The people of Gander, N.L. took in American air travellers during 9/11. We are each other's largest trading partners and share the longest unprotected border in the world.
Trump is even musing about slapping tariffs on vehicles made in Canada, again claiming a national security threat as his justification — as if the minivans, cars and SUVs produced in Canada, mostly for the U.S. market, pose some security risk.
Let's be clear: change is needed in our global trade system. For too long, trade rules have been designed for the sole purpose of protecting investors, and the profits of multinational corporations. We need to take every chance we have to rethink how we do trade, to achieve fairer and more progressive ends.
No one — except maybe Trump — actually thinks we can accomplish this through a no-holds barred trade war. Once one begins, however, you can't pretend it isn't happening and hope for the best.
Canadians get that, which is why the federal government saw strong support from the public and even other political parties for pushing back against Trump. Organized labour, my own union included, came out in support of hitting back.
Across Canada, where tariffs on autos would have a devastatingimpact on our economy, the ketchup wars of two years ago have grown into a pride in all things Canadian and calls for consumers to avoid any American products they can.
Maclean's magazine even published "A patriot's guide to shopping during a Canada-U.S. trade war" that begins with ketchup and goes through several other products from maple syrup, to cars, to toilet paper made in Canada — ending with a note that despite its American-made ketchup, Heinz actually makes peanut butter and jam in Ingleside, Ont. and Mount Royal, Que.
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In fact, this is might just be the easiest time of the year to shop Canadian. Across the country, farmers markets are in full swing, selling all manner of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can shop outside, talk directly to the farmer and go home with the freshest produce you'll ever see.
None of this is about Canadian versus American companies.
It was about Canadian workers and Canadian communities. The loyalty was never to one corporate giant over another. Instead, we buy Canadian-made products to support Canadian workers and farmers whose livelihoods depend on the products being made here.
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