As It Happens

Retired steelworker who voted for Trump calls U.S. tariffs 'bulls--t'

Bob Dyky says Canada should be exempt from the tariff because "the United States and Canada are more than allies — they are partners."

U.S. imposes tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum from EU, Canada and Mexico

A steel worker returns to work after a two year idle at U.S. Steel Granite City Works in Granite City, Illinois, U.S., May 24, 2018. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters)

Bob Dyky is exactly the kind of guy U.S. President Donald Trump is trying to please by imposing new tariffs on Canada — but the retired Pennsylvania steelworker isn't impressed.

The tariffs, announced by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a telephone briefing on Thursday, threaten to impose a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminum from Canada and Mexico and the European Union.

But Dyky, who voted for Trump, says Canada should be exempt.

He spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off from his hometown of Monessen, Penn.

Here is part of that conversation.

Bob, what do you make of President Trump slapping tariffs on Canadian steel?

I totally disagree with it.

The United States and Canada are more than allies, they are partners.

And if we go back and look at history, especially in the steel-making regions, the Great Lakes region ... transportation, trucks, cars airplanes — everything was made here.

And if it wasn't for what happened in this area and the Great Lakes region, we'd be speaking German right now. They never would have won the war.

Do other people in Pennsylvania, in Monessen, and your neighborhood, share your view that Canadian steel should be exempt from these tariffs?

Everybody I talk to has.

A U.S. flag flies in front of the blast furnaces at the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, Penn. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

What do you say to Mr. Trump?

He needs to take a long hard look at the NAFTA agreement, especially as it pertains to Mexico, because that's where the preponderance of jobs went. They didn't go to Canada. As a matter of fact, Canada lost out on the deal too.

What he's saying is that he wants to put people in Pittsburgh back to work again, and this is the way to do it.

I don't think it's going to put anybody in Monessen back to work because the mill is gone. It's been torn down and demolished.

Some people have jobs. Some people have work. Mr. Trump is saying he's putting these tariffs on Canadian steel ... for you. Who do you think he's doing it for?

I don't know who he thinks he's doing it for. He's not doing it for the folks in Monessen or in the Pittsburgh area.

There are some small jobs in places like Westinghouse Air Brake that my friend and his co-workers are being called back to work. But you're talking 50, 75, 100 folks.

Yeah, we'll take a little bit. Any jobs are better than no jobs. But on a large-scale basis for the greater Pittsburgh area, no, I don't see an impact.

If there's retaliation involved, who does that help? No one.

Freeland says Canada retaliating with $16.6 billion in trade actions

4 years ago
Duration 0:42
Chrystia Freeland spoke to reporters in Ottawa on Thursday

Well, there is going to be retaliation. We're hearing that from our own government today that they're not going to take this sitting down, that there are going to be retaliatory tariffs back on the United States products ... What do you make of that?

To be very blunt, I think it's all bulls--t, because the tariffs on this side of the border never should have been enacted against Canada in the first place. Period.

And so what effect do you think that retaliation is going to have on your economy?

Any retaliation is not good for either side.

All it's going to do is drive the costs up for everybody and that's not good. Co-operation is the name of the game between the United States and Canada.

Get it done. Get off your high horse, and forget about just tariff bulls--t.

Donald Trump delivers a speech at the Alumisourse Building in Monessen, Penn., during the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign. (Louis Ruediger/Reuters)

What would you like to say to Mr. Trump today?

Get off of Twitter.

[Laughs] OK, and then what?

[Laughs] There's things I wouldn't say to a lady.

What would you say to your Canadian neighbours?

It's very unfortunate, and I'm sorry that it happened, and it never should have. It never should have been considered, let alone being on the table and enacted.

It's ridiculous, it's ludicrous, it's not right. Never should have crossed anyone's mind.

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from Reuters. Interview produced by Imogen Birchard. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.