Atlantic Canadians can play a role in a growing national push-back against U.S. president Donald Trump and his trade and tariff policies that unfairly penalize this country. A boycott of American goods is gaining momentum. You can pick a slogan to fit your personal priority: ‘Buy Canadian’ or ‘Go Trump-free.’ Either works.
The movement began when the president made personal attacks against Canada and its prime minister for opposing U.S. tariffs. The president’s tirade was shocking. We are dealing with a bully who reacts in anger when Canada says it won’t be pushed around. We are taking a stand against punitive tariffs on lumber, steel and aluminum – and threats on our auto industry and dairy supply management system.
Our resolve was strengthened after watching the horrors of children being separated from parents at U.S. borders. When you let a bully get away with such behaviour, it only encourages more of the same. It may not be an official or government-supported boycott of American goods, but as provinces, as regions, as communities and as individuals, we can do something, and we can make a difference.
Look for the maple leaf brand and buy local whenever possible. It can be as easy as switching from Florida orange juice to Annapolis Valley apple juice. There are lots of options to fulfill our sense of justice and pride in country. Businesses are urged to stick that Canadian symbol prominently on products heading for export. We need our Chinese, Japanese, Indian, European and other trading partners to know they are buying Canadian.
Canada has promised to retaliate equally on July 1 for the president’s latest tariffs on steel and aluminum. It may well invite an additional American response. President Trump is also escalating his tariff attacks on China and that country is promising to retaliate – on U.S. lobster and soybeans, as examples. If that happens, Atlantic Canadian farmers and fishermen could benefit.
It’s easier during this summer season to make a decision to buy local fruits and vegetables. It will be a truer test of our resolve later in the year when Canadian food products cost more. Can we make a trip to the supermarket and go “Trump-free” by not buying a single American product?
It might not seem important in the greater scheme of things, but why is our superior Canadian lobster known by the scientific genus ‘homarus americanus.’ Why are our delicious crustaceans known as American lobster? Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec fishermen and processors don’t want to give this false impression to our overseas customers. It’s time for a new genus – homarus canadianus – and stamp those lobster crates proudly with that name and maple leaf.
As Saltwire columnist Russell Wangersky notes, “if you’re making a sacrifice for your principles, the general idea is that you have to sacrifice something.” If that means going without, paying a little more or buying a substitute product, then so be it. We can do it.
The final week of school takes me back to Grade 9 and a year-end woodworking project.
It was for industrial arts, a required course not meant for me.
I was then, and I remain, Canada’s least-handiest person. The earth worms in your garden are better with their hands than me.
Mr. Ciz, industrial arts instructor and ultra-cool teacher, found that out the loud and expensive way in one of the first classes that year.
After he spent considerable time teaching us how to use the band saw, I busted it seconds into my turn. I’ll never forget the loud clanging noise the broken saw made or the sight of him standing at the back of class with hands over his head and, in a defeated voice, saying, “Steve, you broke my band saw!”
Not that interested in woodworking and fearing a repeat of the band saw incident, I steered towards projects requiring only hammers and hand saws for the rest of the year.
So, while my classmates were using lathes and routers to make elaborate things like lamps and frames, I was making a key rack.
Here’s my elaborate blueprint: a varnished block of pine plus three hooked screws equals a key rack. It earned a grade of C or a D, helping position me not-so-perfectly for a year-end project worth 50 per cent of the final mark. The wood chips were down. I needed a successful project.
Ciz realized this, and that despite my bad aptitude, I had good attitude. He genuinely wanted me to succeed and encouraged me to find a project I’d love to complete.
So, as the year wound to a close, he gave me the green light to complete what is likely the lamest project in school wood-working history — a basketball backboard.
Yup, I cut a sheet a plywood in a half, painted it white, and screwed a basketball rim on it.
It was terribly uncomplicated, but I’d argue my project got more use and gave its creator more enjoyment than any other made in the shop that year. I spent hours and hours shooting baskets, something I still love to do.
I don’t remember the actual grade, but Ciz gave me a decent mark for the backboard and the year.
That was a relief because I was nervous about flunking industrial arts and, at that point, I was an honours student who had never failed a test, let alone a course.
I always think about Ciz and that backboard during the last week of school — even though it was 35 (gulp) years ago.
His actions taught me about aptitude, compassion and patience, and that a one-size-fits-all expectation is not always practical.
I salute him, and as another school year ends, all the teachers who helped students get through in 2018.