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OPINION: Bill Walton, 4 Tariffs

Time to turn over a new leaf, Canada
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I have been wondering what I can do as an individual to play a part in the ‘United Sates Against the World’ tariff wars. Okay, call it a trade war and be done with it. Somehow it just feels like I should do something. The answer is, there is not much an individual can do. Well, I am reading labels at the grocery store to see the country of origin and making choices. I actually found some dill pickles (right beside the pricier US Bick’s) that were made in India and am trying them. Clothing mostly doesn’t come from the US so no problem there. The thing is, it can be tricky finding stuff with that little maple leaf flag on them.

The purpose of looking for the maple leaf is to preserve our jobs. Our largest trading partner is the US and they seem to be throwing up barriers as if we weren’t BFF.  As much as the steel and aluminum blockade is hurting, the big blow is going to come when the US administration places a tariff on automobiles. And they are going to do it. It matters not if the move will cost thousands of jobs on both sides of the borders in Mexico and Canada; it is a matter of (un)principle with Don.

A car dealership spokesperson on TV said we could handle it – we would just have to pay more for our cars. Easy for he on commission to say. Sure, spread the loan out over 12 years. Or buy used pre-tariff autos. We could become just like Cuba where they drive old Classic cars as a matter of course. Think of the new jobs for mechanics and body shop workers. Think of the savings for parts manufacturers: they would not have to update their production lines for new models until the trade wars end, say in 6 years.

Please do not think that Don will stop with the auto sector. Think of what he can do when he turns his mind to petroleum.

NAFTA is a good as dead, so let’s start making trade deals with other countries. In fact, let’s start making trade deals within our own country. Let’s get our Provincial finance ministers together and knock down those Provincial barriers we have erected. Why the heck can’t I buy a bottle of BC wine at the LCBO? If the problem is at the LCBO who think we like California wines better than Ontario or BC wines, fix that too. If buying a case or two of beer in Quebec and taking it home to New Brunswick is a problem, fix that. Is there something wrong with PEI potatoes in New Brunswick? If a degree for Alberta isn’t deemed as good as one from Ontario, fix that with the stroke of a pen. We are all in this together. Not one province alone, but all of us.

By all of us I mean farmers, forestry workers, miners, auto plant employees and darn near everything else we do in this country. Mr T thinks we have been taking advantage of the US when in fact it is the other way around. Americans have had their fingers in pies all around the world, persuading people to buy their goods and services, which served them very well financially. And admittedly it helped the little countries like Canada.  We didn’t have to manufacture stuff at higher costs due to volume limits – we just bought American. Now other countries are stepping on US toes – like China, Japan, and Korea. By reverse engineering (Don says it is theft) they are now producing American-like products and peddling them at lower prices all around the world. Hence the trade war.

Perhaps this is all just a timely wake-up call for Canada. We have relied on the United States for too much for too long. It is time we grew up and looked after ourselves. Just saying.