Premier Kathleen Wynne released the following statement today on Canada’s exemption from the U.S.’s new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports:
“We learned today that Canada has been exempted from the U.S. government’s new steel and aluminum import tariffs — for now. While it is important to recognize that we are still facing challenges, I am pleased that we got the decision we fought for — the one that protects workers and businesses in Ontario’s steel and aluminum industry. It speaks to the success of Ontario’s strategy of extensive outreach to U.S. leaders during this period of uncertainty. But it also underlines the threats we still face during this uncertain time and the need for my outreach and advocacy to continue.
In a little over a year, I have met with 37 U.S. governors and dozens of senators, congress people and senior members of the U.S. administration. In my frequent and ongoing conversations with U.S. leaders on issues relating to trade and the jobs it supports, I have argued for the maintenance of a strong, integrated economy, with steel emerging as a major focus of those discussions over the past number of weeks.
Ontario is home to more than 70 per cent of Canada’s steel-making capacity. The industry is a key employer, supporting good jobs in places like Sault Ste. Marie and Hamilton and in related industries across the province, including our automotive, energy and construction sectors. As such, Ontario’s steel and aluminum businesses are a crucial part of North America’s steel and broader manufacturing infrastructure.
As key allies and partners in NORAD and NATO, Canada and the U.S. are integral to each other’s national security. Canada is a safe and secure supplier of steel and aluminum to the U.S., and it is worth noting that Canada buys more American steel than the rest of the world combined. As I made clear to our U.S. partners, the proposed tariffs would have not only harmed Ontario companies, but also U.S. companies and workers that rely on existing trade relationships with Canada.
I have been encouraged by the responses we have received from business and government leaders across the U.S., who shared our concerns over the major consequences that U.S. tariffs would have had on both sides of the border. Today’s outcome confirms that we are taking the right approach when it comes to protecting Ontario workers by standing up for our interests south of the border. We have allies and we are making a strong case for our partnership. But we are not out of the woods yet.
As the NAFTA negotiations continue over the coming weeks and months, we remain committed to working alongside our neighbours in the U.S. and our federal government to protect the strong trade relationship we have built across the border and to advocate for Ontario’s interests. Ontario appreciates the close working relations we have with our federal government as we navigate this challenging period. After the events of the last week, and with today’s decision to exempt Canada from the U.S.’s steel and aluminium tariffs by no means a final one, it is only more apparent that we need to continue strengthening these relationships in order to get the greater certainty we need from our partner and ally to the south.
As Premier, I will continue to stand up whenever Ontario’s interests are being threatened. In these uncertain times, we must remain vigilant and advocate for our workers and businesses at every opportunity. I am continuing to build on the strong relationships I have developed with U.S. government and business leaders to find new ways to continue to work together.
The decision made today by President Trump’s administration to exempt Ontario and Canada from the new tariffs is a positive development and a demonstration that our U.S. engagement strategy is working. But with the tide of protectionism rising across the U.S., we have more work to do and will remain vigilant.”