On­tario’s Ford stand­ing with Trudeau on trade, de­spite dif­fer­ences

Times Colonist - - Business - PAOLA LORIGGIO

TORONTO — Doug Ford says that while he may clash with Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau on is­sues such as car­bon pric­ing, he will stand side by side with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment when it comes to in­ter­na­tional trade and pro­tect­ing Cana­dian jobs.

On­tario’s newly elected pre­mier-des­ig­nate stressed the need to present a united front dur­ing com­plex trade ne­go­ti­a­tions, even as he reaf­firmed his plan to scrap the pro­vin­cial ca­pand-trade sys­tem and fight up­com­ing fed­eral rules on car­bon pric­ing.

“Are we go­ing to have some dif­fer­ences in­ter­nally within the fam­ily per se? I’m sure we’ll have a few bumps,” Ford told re­porters on Wed­nes­day.

“When it comes about in­ter­na­tional trade and work­ing with the United States and Mex­ico, make no mis­take about it, we’re go­ing to stand side by side.”

Ford said that while he un­der­stands U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is 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.

His com­ments come af­ter Trump called Trudeau “weak” and “dis­hon­est” in a Twit­ter post over the week­end af­ter the prime min­is­ter spoke against Amer­i­can tar­iffs on steel and alu­minium.

Ford, who met with in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives to dis­cuss NAFTA talks on Wed­nes­day, said the Amer­i­can tar­iffs will hurt jobs on both sides of the border and should be lifted. “Noth­ing is ben­e­fi­cial from get­ting into an ar­gu­ment with each other, it just doesn’t ben­e­fit com­pa­nies, it doesn’t ben­e­fit peo­ple,” he said.

Ford’s will­ing­ness to set aside par­ti­san­ship and side with the prime min­is­ter is “re­fresh­ing and en­cour­ag­ing,” and shows he rec­og­nizes how high the stakes are for On­tario on this is­sue, said Myer Siemi­aty­cki, pro­fes­sor of pol­i­tics at Toronto’s Ry­er­son Univer­sity. “For all the risks — and the risks are real — that we now con­front on the trade front, this ten­sion be­tween Canada and the United States has cre­ated an op­por­tu­nity for Mr. Ford to step up, be heard and strike a note that is very much not par­ti­san and may be dif­fer­ent from what vot­ers and the peo­ple of On­tario had pre­vi­ously ex­pected of Mr. Ford,” he said.

The fact that pub­lic opin­ion is ral­ly­ing be­hind Trudeau may be one fac­tor af­fect­ing Ford’s de­ci­sion, how­ever, “there could be an el­e­ment of let’s demon­strate a de­gree of na­tional com­mit­ment, of abil­ity to play well in the sand­box,” the pro­fes­sor said.

“Most im­por­tant, it’s a recog­ni­tion that On­tario needs prime min­is­ter Trudeau to be strong, to be clear, to be sup­ported, that any di­vi­sive­ness of at­ti­tudes or views among Canada’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers would only erode Canada and On­tario’s po­si­tion,” he said.

On­tario pre­mier-des­ig­nate Doug Ford.

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