Justin Trudeau to visit Hamilton Tuesday on steel industry tour

Justin Trudeau will be in Hamilton on Tuesday, as part of his tour of regions of the country that are heavily reliant on the steel and aluminum industries in a show of solidarity for those who would be hurt the most by stiff U.S. tariffs.

Visit comes amid controversy over U.S. president Donald Trump's plan to impose stiff tariffs on steel

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands during question period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 28. Trudeau is scheduled to be in Hamilton on Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Justin Trudeau will be in Hamilton on Tuesday, as part of his tour of regions of the country that are heavily reliant on the steel and aluminum industries in a show of solidarity for those who would be hurt the most by stiff U.S. tariffs.

The prime minister will begin his tour on Monday in Alma, Quebec, home to one of Rio Tinto's seven aluminum smelters in the province.

On Tuesday, he'll visit Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, before heading to Regina on Wednesday. Trudeau last visited Hamilton in January, where he told a town hall that Canadians can feel safe despite returning ISIS fighters.

Earlier this week, Trudeau called U.S. President Donald Trump to talk about the president's vow to impose steep tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. 

Until he actually does something I'm actually trying to tune him out.- Marvin Ryder, business professor at McMaster University

Trudeau spoke with Trump about the closing of the latest round of NAFTA negotiations in Mexico City, flagging the progress that had been made in this seventh round of talks while expressing concerns about the threat of tariffs.

"The prime minister also registered his serious concern about the U.S. administration's proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum," said a read-out of the call from the Prime Minister's Office.

Canadian steel mills like Stelco could be intensely affected by U.S. tariffs. (CBC)

A government source with direct knowledge of the trade file told CBC News that, during the call, Trudeau made the case for Canadian steelworkers and argued that tariffs would frustrate ongoing NAFTA negotiations.

Trump dropped the tariff bombshell last Thursday, with very few specifics – save for a 25 per cent tariff for steel and 10 per cent for aluminum. The discussion opens a window into an enmeshed, integrated steel industry in North America.

In the automotive sector, existing trade rules allow companies to transport steel parts back and forth across the border many times before the part gets used in a vehicle.

Hamilton's steel industry is "going to be affected by this but in ways that are hard to predict," said Marvin Ryder, business professor at McMaster University, in a previous interview.

"ArcelorMittal Dofasco and Stelco sell into the automobile market, but auto makers have said, 'We don't want this.'"

The integration between both sides of the border goes back to the auto pact, signed even before the North American Free Trade Agreement, that acknowledged the United States needed Canadian parts to make cars, and vice versa.

"It's been this way for more than 50 years," Ryder said.

He called Trump's statements "sabre-rattling" and said he's not putting much stock in them until he sees specifics.

"Until he actually does something I'm actually trying to tune him out."

With files from The Canadian Press

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