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Canada Retaliates After The U.S. Hits It With Tariffs On Steel


The United States took the dramatic step yesterday of going forward with 25 percent tariffs on steel imported from Canada, as well as from Mexico and the EU. Canada has fired back announcing tariffs on nearly $13 billion worth of U.S. goods. Here's Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.


PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU: These tariffs are an affront to the long-standing security partnership between Canada and the United States and, in particular, an affront to the thousands of Canadians who have fought and died alongside their American comrades in arms.

GREENE: All right, Canada was the top source for America's imported steel last year. And much of that steel comes from the province of Ontario. And joining us this morning is Kathleen Wynne. She is Ontario's Premier. Premier Wynne, thank you so much for taking the time this morning.

KATHLEEN WYNNE: Oh, thanks very much, David. Thanks for having me.

GREENE: That - your prime minister is making this sound like a very dramatic moment. I mean, there's discussion sometimes about even countries that get along very well being able to engage in a trade dispute. I mean, bringing up people who have died alongside American brothers in arms - is it that significant a moment to you?

WYNNE: It absolutely is, David, you know, on a number of levels. As the premier of Ontario, there's a very practical economic impact. And, you know, 70 percent of the steel-making capacity in Canada is located in Ontario. And as you said in your intro, Canada supplies more steel to America than any other country. And so this is a really important economic moment for us. But I think the other thing that the prime minister was alluding to is that we consider ourselves such close partners and allies with the United States, as we have been. You know, and this isn't how you treat an ally. I think that, adding insult to injury, Donald Trump has had to concoct a national security argument, which - it just makes no sense to us as Ontarians and Canadians. It feels like such a departure from the relationship that we've had that I think that makes it an emotional reaction as well as an economic reaction.

GREENE: Well, can I just ask you. I mean, you have been campaigning for re-election on your own. That vote is coming up in just a matter of days. And your message has been that Canadian steelworkers deserve better. Isn't that in essence what Donald Trump has been saying? I mean, you might disagree with some of the numbers, the strategies. But don't you both have the same sort of goal in mind that you want to protect steelworkers who you represent?

WYNNE: But that's what's so illogical about this - that what the Trump administration has done is actually going to hurt steelworkers on both sides of the border. It's going to hurt jobs on both sides of the border. It's illogical. And it's sort of - you know, I mean, we know. We watch up here. And Donald Trump seems to be a president who rules by tweet. There isn't substance or sort of rational argument to the decisions that he makes. And this one makes no sense because it's going to hurt jobs on both sides of the border.

You know, I've spent the last year and a bit, David, talking with my American counterparts. I've met with 37 governors. I've been to the States multiple times. And every single conversation I have had - whether it's with a governor or whether it's members of the Trump administration or a congressman - congresspeople, it's the understanding of how integrated our economies are. It's very, very deep. And so to have a president who would make a move like this - for Trump to do this in a way that will hurt both of our countries, both of our labor forces, it just - it makes no sense to us. And it's counterproductive.

GREENE: Forgive me. I don't mean to interrupt. But, I mean, there are, you know, lawmakers, including some Democrats - there are some of the unions in the United States - who actually do disagree and believe that moves like this could and actually may have already increased jobs in the industries in the United States. So can we at least agree that it is a matter of debate?

WYNNE: Oh, for sure. No, I understand that. And there will be those arguments made by - from some quarters on both sides of the border. But it is not possible to argue that there won't be increased costs for companies, increased costs for consumers on both sides of the border. And that's why this makes no sense. And it's why we've been very clear as Ontario that, you know, we absolutely support our federal government and called on our federal government to take retaliatory action. I just think that no one in this country - certainly no one in Ontario wants to have a trade war. And that's what we're entering into. And I think it's a great shame for both countries.

GREENE: Kathleen Wynne is the premier of Ontario, which is the source of a lot of the steel that comes into the United States, joining us this morning to talk about President Trump's trade decisions. We really appreciate the time this morning. Thanks a lot.

WYNNE: Thanks very much, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.