Ontario Liberals introduce bill to retaliate against Buy American provisions

Ontario's governing Liberals have introduced a bill to retaliate against any state that adopts Buy American provisions as the provincial legislature resumes sitting for the final session before a spring election.

Premier Wynne said bill would be 1st piece of legislation passed in final session before election

Premier Kathleen Wynne had previously declared her intentions to counter protectionist measures put in place by some U.S. states. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Ontario's governing Liberals have introduced a bill to retaliate against any state that adopts Buy American provisions as the provincial legislature resumes sitting for the final session before a spring election.

Premier Kathleen Wynne had earlier this month declared her intentions to counter protectionist measures put in place by some U.S. states, saying the bill would be the first piece of legislation passed by her government when the session began. 

The proposed bill would reduce procurement opportunities for states that adopt Buy American provisions by allowing provincial officials to write regulations targeting individual states.

The regulations would be proportional to the restrictions imposed in the targeted state, and would be revoked if the state cancels its Buy American policy, the province said in a statement Tuesday.

"Our government's priority is to ensure that Ontario businesses and workers have access to other markets and are treated fairly when operating within those markets," International Trade Minister Michael Chan said in a statement.

"Our proposed legislation would achieve that by creating a level playing field between Ontario and U.S. states when it comes to government procurement."

The opposition parties have said they would review the legislation when it is tabled, but have also called the move a reckless political gambit from the Liberals as they fight to remain in power.

"I think that these kinds of issues are important to be dealt with by the federal government frankly as well, and I worry if we're out of step with other provinces it might cause some bigger problems for the nation," Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Tuesday.

Wynne has previously said the federal government is aware of her plans, and that she intends to discuss the idea with other Canadian premiers at their upcoming conference.