Windsor·Video

Chrystia Freeland meets with Unifor leaders to talk trade

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland met with members of Unifor Local 444 in Windsor to discuss the benefits of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

The Foreign Affairs minister was in Windsor today to discuss the benefits of the USMCA

Chrystia Freeland met with members of Unifor Local 444 in Windsor on Tuesday. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland was in Windsor Tuesday, discussing the benefits of the USMCA​ with members of Unifor Local 444.

She met with union leaders over the pending trade deal with the U.S., which she said is good for Canada, good for workers and removes uncertainty for investors.

"This was a tough negotiation," she said, adding that Unifor "played a really big part" in the negotiating effort.

"The big advantage our country had is we had a real team Canada approach. We had labour, we had business, we had government, we had Indigenous people. We had strong cross-party support," she said.

Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy praised the USMCA but says the tariffs pose threats to thousands of their members. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

'It's a big issue'

She also reaffirmed the government's commitments to fighting tariffs on steel and aluminum.

There are talks of the U.S. looking to come to an agreement on a quota system to limit Canadian exports on steel and aluminum, in exchange for lifting tariffs. 

But Freeland says the tariffs and the trade deal are separate issues.

"We are very clear, as we have been from the outset, that these tariffs are simply a bad idea. They are bad for the United States. They are bad for Canada," she said. 

She mentioned the grade in steel between the two countries as being "balanced."

"In fact, the U.S. have a slight surplus with Canada," she said.

"And what we are hearing from U.S. business, from U.S. Legislators, even from U.S. unions, is that these tariffs, both the U.S. measures against Canada, and Canada's retaliation, are having a negative impact on the United States."

Freeland met with engineering students at the University of Windsor. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy praised the USMCA but acknowledged the tariffs pose threats to thousands of their members.

He said he wants to see the deal ratified because it has some protection for worker's wages, but he does want to see Canada take a tough stand on the tariffs. 

"It's a big issue," he said. "Absolutely they need to go harder."

Freeland's visit to Windsor comes one day ahead of Deputy Conservative Leader Lisa Raitt's visit to the Windsor-Essex region, where she'll be touring Harrow's Atlas Tube Centre on Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Atlas Tube owner Barry Zekelman has been critical of Freeland's handling of trade relations with the U.S.

Tap the player below to watch Freeland's appearance in Windsor:

With files from Dale Molnar

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