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Deadline looms this weekend on Canadian countermeasures to U.S. steel, aluminum tariffs

'These unjust tariffs by the United States government will not be tolerated by Canada' - Terry Sheehan
20170511 Essar Steel Algoma KA 05
A transport truck drives toward the Canadian point of entry on the International Bridge at sunset with Essar Steel Algoma in the background. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

With Canadian countermeasures against President Donald Trump's tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum products set to take effect this weekend, Canadian lawmakers are urging their U.S. counterparts to reconsider.

In Ottawa, the all-party parliamentary steel caucus, co-chaired by Sault MP Terry Sheehan, is asking the U.S. congressional steel caucus to try to dial back the escalating trade war.

"We ask for your assistance in de-escalating this trade dispute by removing these damaging tariffs on steel and aluminum which are already negatively impacting workers on both sides of the border, and to provide Canada a permanent exemption from these tariffs," says the Canadian parliamentarians in a letter sent last week to their American counterparts.

"Our two steel caucus' have a positive history of working together towards a fair, balanced and integrated steel industry in our great countries, for the betterment of all our citizens," the letter states.

"With so many years of friendly market integration, it makes it regrettable that we must now protect our own interests and retaliate dollar-for-dollar on steel and aluminum. As you are aware, Canada is the Number 1 destination for U.S. steel and the retaliatory tariffs Canada must impose will negatively impact the United States industry in equal measure."

"We know any restrictions would harm workers, the industry and manufacturers on both sides of the border. The far-reaching socio-economic consequences of these tariffs will be devastating and on a much larger scale than simply industry and workers. We cannot overstate the calamitous result for both Canadian and American families that these tariffs will create."

This week, Sheehan was invited to participate in a meeting called by Canada's standing committee on international trade to further discuss the U.S. tariffs.

"These unjust tariffs by the United States government will not be tolerated by Canada," the Sault MP said. "Our government has prioritized this issue. It is my priority and I will continue to stand up for our steel industry for as long as it takes."

Other participants in this week's meeting included Ken Neumann and Meg Gingrich from the United Steelworkers and representatives from the Canadian Labour Congress, Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, Canadian Automobile Dealers Association and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

The Canadian countermeasures, announced on May 31 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, cover a wide range of U.S.-manufactured items including quiche, toilet paper, steel tubes, chocolate. coffee, even gherkins.

They're scheduled to take effect on Sunday, Canada Day.