Regina 'a small pawn' in larger game of steel, NAFTA negotiations, says mayor

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is back in Regina this week and he will meet with workers and leaders in the steel industry.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits city to meet mayor, tour Evraz Regina and talk about steel

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks to reporters about NAFTA negotiations, the status of the Trans Mountain pipeline and more, during a visit of Evraz Regina on March 14, 2018. (CBC News)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Regina again on Wednesday, meeting with workers and leaders from the steel industry, and Regina's mayor says he's glad to see Trudeau has the city's back. 

Regina is the largest steel producer in Western Canada, Michael Fougere said after meeting with Trudeau earlier in the day. The Regina Evraz steel facility employs about 900 workers. 

"So what happens in trade, happens in Regina. So [I'm] pleased he's out here, taking leadership to say that he'll defend the interest of the steel industry," he said.

While Fougere said he was glad to see Canadian steel granted a reprieve from punishing tariffs announced by the U.S., he noted conversations with the U.S. seem to go in different directions from day-to-day.

There's a much larger game being played here and we're just a small pawn in that discussion.- Regina Mayor Michael Fougere

"I think common sense will prevail, that we're a very efficient producer of steel. We're not dumping steel in the United States — there's no evidence of that — and the U.S. knows that," he said.

"There's a much larger game being played here and we're just a small pawn in that discussion."

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale met Wednesday morning, prior to the prime minister's visit to Evraz Regina. (CBC News)

Trudeau voices support for Trans Mountain, steel industry

During his day in the city, Trudeau travelled to Evraz Regina to tour the facilities and meet with workers. 

Evraz had warned that it may have to layoff workers in Regina if the B.C. government continued to block pipelines through that province. During his stop in the facility, Trudeau reiterated his support for an east-to-west pipeline as being in "the national interest."

"Trans Mountain Pipeline is going to get built," he said, adding that the pipeline's ability to get oil products to tidewater is tied in with the federal government's climate plan, along with ocean protection and setting a national carbon price.

He also touched on ongoing NAFTA negotiations, which is the larger picture around discussions on steel and aluminum exports.

We won't accept a bad deal, but we know because a good deal is possible for everyone, we're going to get there.- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

"Canada knows there's a win-win-win outcome on improving NAFTA, something that will be good for Canada, U.S. and Mexico," he said. 

However, Canada is prepared to defend itself, its workers and industry in the negotiations, he said.

"We won't accept a bad deal, but we know because a good deal is possible for everyone, we're going to get there."

At the moment, Canada is exempt from a proposed 25 per cent tariff on steel exported to the U.S., along with Mexico. Both countries are also exempt for the time being on a proposed 10 per cent tariff on aluminum exports to the States. 

Canada exports 85 per cent of its steel and aluminum to the U.S.