Steel tour: yesterday Helene Laroche, right, operation director AP60 technology centre, guided Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, (centre), and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard during a visit at the Rio Tinto AP60 aluminum plant in Saguenay, Quebec. (Jacques Boissinot/CP)

Steel tour for Prime Minister Trudeau continues

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Steel tariffs and the impending prospect of a global trade war have the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, visiting the communities that will be most affected.

Last week Canada and Mexico were temporarily exempted from a 25 per cent tariff on steel, and 10 per cent on aluminium, with the proviso that the future NAFTA deal is pleasing to the United States.

Trudeau was in the province of Quebec yesterday, with the province’s Premier Phillipe Couillard, visiting Rio Tinto steel workers.

“The tour is to show support to Canadian steelworkers and to listen to their anxieties”

Couillard pointed out that Quebec’s exports to the U.S. alone are worth some $7 billion dollars.

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He said he himself has been in Washington three times in recent weeks, and vowed to continue to fight against the proposed tariffs.

“Canada and Quebec would not be as rich without the aluminium industry in Lac St. Jean,” Couillard said.

He credited the quality of the work and the noted the reason Quebec can process bauxite into aluminium was due to the low electricity rates.

“I have not yet met with a governor who is not in favour of maintaining good commercial relations between Canada and the U.S.” he said.

The campaign continued last night with Trudeau doing interviews with American cable networks, including a conversation with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tours Dofasco with President and CEO Sean Donnelly, in Hamilton Ontario today. Tara Walton/CP

Today the PM was in Hamilton, Ontario, about 60 kilometres from Toronto, where more than 40,000 workers are involved in the steel industry.

The community, widely known as ‘Steeltown’, has been rattled by U.S. President, Donald Trump’s threats of tariffs.

“We are first and foremost here to serve our own citizens, our own workers and their interests”

Trudeau told a Hamilton TV station this morning that the tour is to show support to Canadian steelworkers and to listen to their anxieties. 

Trudeau reiterated Foreign Affairs minister Chrystia Freeland’s comments last week, reminding Americans that  “armoured vehicles in the U.S. are made from Canadian steel”.

He recounted the history of Bagotville, Quebec. “It was built in 1942 and its mission was to protect the aluminum smelters in the region during World War Two.” Trudeau said,

“In the 1950’s the base was even used as a training spot for Canadian and American military personel. And even today, defending the Saguenay is the motto of the third squad.”

While emphasising this special relationship between the two countries and our security concerns, Trudeau cautioned: “Make no mistake, we are first and foremost here to serve our own citizens, our own workers and their interests.”

In responding to reporters yesterday Trudeau said,  “The consequences of putting tariffs on steel and aluminum here in Canada would mean pain for workers here in Canada but also job losses and difficulties for workers and their families in the United States.” he said.

“That’s because the level of integration in steel and aluminum within our two markets is deep, complex and profitable to both our countries, to disrupt that with imposition of tariffs would cause negative impacts on both side of the border.” Trudeau said.

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