Wynne slams Horwath's response to steel tariffs, pledges a package for workers

Kathleen Wynne is slamming what she says is Andrea Horwath's "inadequate" response to the U.S. government's new tariffs on Canadian steel. And she also pledged retraining for any laid off steelworkers if the tariffs persist.

Horwath says 'the fight doesn't end until the tariffs are gone'

Kathleen Wynne, with Flamborough-Glanbrook Liberal candidate Judi Partridge, said the NDP statement about steel tariffs is "not enough of a response." (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Kathleen Wynne is slamming what she describes as Andrea Horwath's "inadequate" response to the U.S. government's new tariffs on Canadian steel. She also pledged retraining for any laid off steelworkers if the tariffs persist.

The Liberal leader lashed out at Horwath Friday morning during a Dundas campaign stop. Wynne says Horwath, the Ontario NDP leader who's represented Hamilton Centre, seemed to blame the Liberals for the tariffs.

She also seemed to not know Wynne had met with 37 U.S. government leaders to advocate for Canada's steel industry, Wynne claimed. And that is "not good enough."

"It is not an adequate response for someone who is saying that she is ready to be the premier of the province, six days before the election," Wynne said.

Former Liberal cabinet minister Ted McMeekin, candidate for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, called Horwath's statement "embarrassing" given that she's from a labour party and a steel town.

Wynne pledged a support package for steelworkers if tariffs persist. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Horwath's statement doesn't specifically say that Wynne hasn't met with 37 governors, as well as senators and other top U.S. officials. Rather, it says Horwath would do the same. 

"If I am elected premier, I'll be meeting with Canadian and American officials immediately to do everything I can to secure an exemption to these punitive, devastating tariffs," she said Thursday.

Horwath reiterated that Friday. She also said she'd work with the prime minister, Washington and Ottawa to end the tariffs. 

"I believe in trade and the good jobs it brings, and President Donald Trump's new tariff has put jobs in both Ontario and across the border at risk," she said.

"It was unacceptable when Wynne failed to step up, and Hamilton Specialty Bar shut down. It was unacceptable to me when the Liberals lost 300,000 good Ontario manufacturing jobs, and it's unacceptable to me now that tens of thousands of steel and aluminum workers are worried about whether they'll be able to pay the bills by the end of the month."

"For me, this fight doesn't end until steel tariffs are gone."

Ontario PC leader Doug Ford, meanwhile, said the tariffs will "make things even harder for Ontario's already struggling steel industry and our workers."

As premier, he said in a statement, he will work with the federal government to "resolve these trade issues and make Ontario open for business again."

Wynne said Friday that if tariffs persist, a Liberal government would provide training, education and advocacy for displaced steelworkers.

Jacqueline Hansen reports on the business impact on U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. 2:00

Some believe the tariffs are temporary, and a way to give the U.S. a leg up in NAFTA negotiations. Wynne said Canada can't count on that.

"There are a lot of moving parts in this, and we can't just hold our breath and assume all of this will be gone in a few months because there will be a NAFTA deal," she said. "There are way too many questions about that path to a resolution of NAFTA for us to do that."

It was Wynne's second stop in Hamilton this week alone. At Stelco on Wednesday, she took aim at Horwath again, implying the NDP is too ideological to participate in trade talks.

The NDP said Horwath is able and prepared to do that, and called taking part in the talks "the bare minimum" of a premier's job.

The election is June 7. Polling shows the NDP to be leading the popular vote, but trailing the PC party in seats.

About the Author

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca


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