Windsor

Group of Canadian and U.S. mayors speaks out against trade tariffs

A group of Canadian and U.S. mayors say the economies in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River area are tightly integrated and the imposition of trade tariffs would impact both sides of the border.
Mayors from the U.S. and Canada gather for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. (Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative)

A group of Canadian and U.S. mayors say the economies in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River area are tightly integrated and the imposition of trade tariffs would impact both sides of the border.

The mayors attending the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative annual conference in Ajax, Ont., cautioned Thursday against isolationist trade policies.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope said President Donald Trump's trade threats are problematic on both sides of the border. 

"It's great to see our colleagues from the United States saying, you know, 'Look, he doesn't speak for us, and we believe that trade is important. We believe that collaboration is extremely important, and we believe in the community of common interests that we all share as a Great Lakes basin, and we need to do more in getting both federal governments in the United States and in Canada working together to preserve that Great Lakes basin.'"

Hope said the idea that someone has to lose when it comes to protecting jobs is "extremely naive."

"When a plant closes or layoffs occur, we're the first to hear about all this stuff," he said. "You've got it the president of the United States shooting off words of battle and trade wars and trade this, trade that, and yet us in the communities understand how many times an auto part goes across the border, and how much interdependence we are making sure the jobs are at making sure jobs are in their community as well as in our own community."

Niagara Falls, N.Y., Mayor Paul Dyster said the U.S. mayors "stand shoulder to shoulder with our Canadian cousins in the face of escalating rhetoric that threatens to damage 200 years of peace and economic prosperity in the region."

Trump has already imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum and has threatened automotive tariffs as well.

The mayors pointed out in a statement that if the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region were a country — encompassing Quebec, Ontario and the eight Great Lake states — it would be the world's third-largest economy.

Collingwood, Ont., Mayor Sandra Cooper said the group is dedicated to protecting the economic prosperity of the region.

"Due to the integrated nature of its economy, both sides of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region would be seriously impacted by the imposition of trade tariffs," the mayors said.

With files from CBC's Meg Roberts.

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