Trump holds Canadian steel and aluminum as NAFTA hostage


MEXICO CITY –Unifor, Canada’s largest union in the private sector, says that President Trump has made it clear that Canada’s steel and aluminum industries are being held hostage to extort a NAFTA deal.

“Trump plainly stated that tariffs will only come off if Canada signs a NAFTA agreement to his liking,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “The question now is whether the Canadian government is going to submit to trade blackmail.”

Last week the U.S. announced plans to impose import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum. Over the weekend White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro definitively stated there will be no country exclusions including Canada, the largest exporter of both steel and aluminum to the U.S.

 Unifor represents thousands of members in the steel and aluminum sectors, including 4,000 aluminum workers at Rio Tinto in British Columbia and Quebec in addition to 40,000 auto sector members. The union has already called for the federal government to walk away from NAFTA if Canada is not excluded from tariffs.

“The American’s have come after Canada on softwood, paper, aerospace and now steel and aluminum,” said Dias. “How much further proof do we need that the U.S. government is bargaining in bad faith?”

Ontario is a major supplier of steel and automobiles and Quebec is a key supplier of aluminum.  Sanctions will have a devastating effect on jobs in key industries and communities, and it will also directly impact the cost of items from cars to canned food.

Unifor reiterated its call to the federal government to take all necessary retaliatory measures to protect Canadian industries and jobs.