Opposition and steel industry giant want Canada to talk to U.S. about tariffs

Deputy leader of the opposition, Lisa Raitt, visited Windsor-Essex to talk about steel and aluminum tariffs, a day after the Minister of Foreign Affairs paid a visit to the region.

‘You can’t agree to anything unless you’re talking,’ says Barry Zekelman

Lisa Raitt says Canada should be negotiating to lift steel and aluminum tariffs now. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Deputy leader of the opposition, Lisa Raitt, is pushing Canada to negotiate with the U.S. about aluminum and steel tariffs.

"Canada has to be willing to bargain," said Raitt, "They have to be willing to go in there and see what they can get in order to get rid of these U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs."

She was speaking at the Harrow location of Atlas Tube, a steel tube and pipe company, Wednesday.

Raitt disagrees with the NDP's insistence that the government not sign the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement until those tariffs are lifted.

"I think that's not taking into consideration the real damage that could happen if auto tariffs are going to come in," she said.

Barry Zekelman says he would agree to having quotas on Canadian exports even though he exports to the U.S. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

However, Atlas Tube owner Barry Zekelman says one way for Canada to get rid of the tariffs is to agree to U.S. demands of a quota on steel and aluminum exports.

He says he ships to the U.S., but he's willing to agree because Canadian-made metals aren't the problem.

"The problem is the back door," he said, pointing to a number of countries that import cheap steel to Canada, such as the Philippines, Vietnam and China, which can then make its way into the U.S.

Like Raitt, he wants Canada to talk to the U.S. about the tariffs.

"You can't agree to anything unless you're talking," he said. "I would love if there was no tariffs or no quotas, but it's not reality today."