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Sault Dream Team mobilizes to frustrate Trumpian steel tariffs

During a Friday teleconference, Sault Ste. Marie's mayor and provincial and federal representatives hatched a plan to hogtie the U.S. president's threatened tariffs on non-U.S. steel
2017-09-16 Pride Flag Raising DMH-2
MPP Ross Romano, Mayor Christian Provenzano, and MP Terry Sheehan at Pride flag-raising ceremony on Sept. 16, 2017. Donna Hopper/SooToday

Heads up, Mr. President!

Three political amigos from Sault Ste. Marie, Canada are quietly scheming to envelope your flank and thwart your plan to slap a 25 per cent tariff on non-U.S. steel.

The Sault's anti-tariff Dream Team of Mayor Christian Provenzano, MP Terry Sheehan and MPP Ross Romano became all-for-one-and-one-for-all brothers in arms during a teleconference on Friday.

Their strategy is to work the phones to their U.S. counterparts.

Provenzano will call mayors in places like Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Indiana, Texas, California, Kentucky, New Jersey and Tennessee that stand to lose if Canada isn't exempted from the Trump tariffs.

Sheehan will speed-dial federal representatives in those states.

Romano will reach out to state representatives.

"We're going to work on political leaders south of the border," Romano told SooToday.

"If our steel plant fails, it will have significant and far-reaching effects on their markets, economy and jobs within their communities."

"I'm pleased that we're working together as a unit."

Romano's preferred outcome is to have Canadian steel exempted from the 25 per cent tariff.

If the president can't be persuaded to do that, then Romano prefers an alternative mentioned by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that would slap tariffs of 53 per cent on steel from 12 countries including Brazil, China Russia, India, South Africa and Vietnam, with a quota of 100 per cent of 2017 imports imposed on Canada and all other remaining countries.

"That's not ideal, but it's palatable based on the price of steel today," Romano told us.

"The tariffs proposed by President Trump will have a negative effect on the steel industry in both Canada and the U.S.," Mayor Provenzano said in a written statement. 

"Canada is the top destination for U.S. steel exports and the US is the top destination for Canadian steel exports. Whether the proposed tariff will be levied against Canadian steel has not been announced yet, and there is an opportunity to make the fact-based case that trade between our two countries is balanced."

“The facts and statistics establish that Canada and the U.S. have a balanced, fair and complementary trade relationship in steel. For instance, in 2017 each country exported US$6 billion worth of steel to the other country."

“Levying a tariff against Canadian steel entering the U.S. will disrupt this relationship and negatively affect both countries," the mayor said.

Added Sault MP Terry Sheehan: “I have been in Washington D.C. recently to meet with congressional representatives and senators to discuss the importance of the steel industry including Algoma and Tenaris Algoma Tubes. We have had a trade balance in steel, with the United States. Both countries have benefited from ongoing cooperation as raw materials move from the United States to Canada to be made into steel, and back to the United States as a component in various kinds of manufacturing. Thousands of jobs and much of our prosperity depend on this co-operation."

"We have the longest undefended border in the world and we have partnerships with the United States that go back more  than a century. I will continue to reach out to contact allies among my federal counterparts in  the United States so that we can work together, effectively, against cheap, foreign dumped steel,” Sheehan said.


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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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