‘Full court press’ on trade: Ford

Pre­mier-des­ig­nate prom­ises to travel to “ev­ery sin­gle state” to dis­cuss trade with U.S.

The London Free Press - - OBITUARIES - SHAWN JEFFORDS THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

TORONTO — Vow­ing to stand with the fed­eral Lib­er­als, On­tario’s Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive pre­mierdes­ig­nate said he will travel widely in the United States in a bid to help bol­ster con­tin­u­ing and com­plex NAFTA talks.

Doug Ford emerged from a nearly hour­long meet­ing Thurs­day af­ter­noon with For­eign

Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrystia Free­land and Canada’s am­bas­sador to the United States, pledg­ing his help in trade dis­pute.

The busi­ness­man and owner of a la­bel-mak­ing busi­ness with a branch in the U.S., leaned on his back­ground in sales to tell re­porters that he will help fed­eral ef­forts by trav­el­ling to the U.S. to dis­cuss trade with U.S. politi­cians.

“It’s go­ing to be a full court press,” Ford said .“I’ m go­ing to be trav­el­ling to ev­ery sin­gle state be­cause noth­ing is bet­ter than meet­ing some­one eye-to-eye. I can get on the phone, but noth­ing is bet­ter than vis­it­ing some­one eye-to-eye.”

Ford, whose Con­ser­va­tives won a ma­jor­ity last week, will be con­tin­u­ing work be­gun by out­go­ing Lib­eral Pre­mier Kath­leen Wynne, who spent months meet­ing with Amer­i­can gov­er­nors stress­ing the im­por­tance of reach­ing a new NAFTA agree­ment. On­tario will not sit on the side­lines, he said.

“My friends, we must stand to­gether dur­ing th­ese crit­i­cal ne­go­ti­a­tions be­cause there’s so much at stake,” he said. “Jobs across our econ­omy, work­ers and their fam­i­lies, en­tire com­mu­ni­ties are all count­ing on us to de­fend On­tario’s in­ter­ests and Canada’s in­ter­est.”

Free­land said the trade dis­cus­sions are a non-par­ti­san is­sue and praised Ford and all of Canada’s pre­miers for pre­sent­ing a united front to the U.S.

“We’ve been very ef­fec­tive as a coun­try in play­ing as Team Canada in this very crit­i­cal ne­go­ti­a­tion,” she said. “I’m re­ally grate­ful for all the work that pre­miers across the coun­try have been do­ing in be­ing part of the Team Canada ef­fort. As pre­mier-des­ig­nate Ford has said, it re­ally has been a non-par­ti­san ef­fort.”

Free­land, who had been in Wash­ing­ton ear­lier Thurs­day meet­ing U.S. Am­bas­sador Richard Lighthizer, said she told the trade czar she would be would be meet­ing with On­tario’s pre­mier-des­ig­nate this af­ter­noon.

“I think he was a lit­tle bit sur­prised,” she said dur­ing brief in­tro­duc­tory re­marks be­fore her meet­ing with Ford. “I think that was a very im­por­tant sig­nal and mes­sage of Canada be­ing ab­so­lutely uni­fied when it comes to this very im­por­tant is­sue.”

Free­land said she also con­sulted Ford on retaliatory tar­iffs that will be im­posed on the U.S. in re­sponse to “il­le­gal” tar­iffs Don­ald Trump slapped on Cana­dian steel and alu­minium im­ports.

“On July 1, Canada’s re­tal­i­a­tion list will come into ef­fect,” she said. “I want to be clear with Cana­di­ans, this is a per­fectly re­cip­ro­cal, mea­sured re­sponse.”

Ear­lier this week, Ford met with auto and steel in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives af­fected by the trade talks and said re­cent Amer­i­can tar­iffs on alu­minium and steel would hurt jobs on both sides of the bor­der.

Ford’s re­marks Thurs­day echoed his sup­port for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment dur­ing the tough trade talks.

Ford said that while he un­der­stands Trump was stick­ing up for his coun­try in re­cent re­marks crit­i­ciz­ing Canada and the prime min­is­ter, “name-call­ing” won’t help re­solve dis­agree­ments on trade be­tween the two coun­tries.

Ford

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