Looking Behind Trump’s Latest Attack on Canada’s Aluminum Exports


That didn’t take long. The new trade deal between Canada, the United States and Mexico was barely a month old when President Trump, during a tour of a Whirlpool appliance factory, announced that he’d again placed tariffs on aluminum from Canada.

Canada, in turn, will impose retaliatory tariffs next month against a wide variety of things made from aluminum in the United States, although there is no sign the countermeasure will prompt a retreat by Mr. Trump.

Last week, many Canada Letter readers emailed questions about the president’s latest move, and several offered scathing opinions about it.

I put some of your questions to Chad P. Brown, an economist and trade analyst at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Maybe yes, if you wanted to feel like you should be special and not be mistreated this way. But if you’re like, “We should just be treated like everybody else,” well, you’re being treated no better, no worse than other countries.

There are good arguments that you should be treated better. But, unfortunately, this is the Trump administration’s approach.

Are there big political gains for President Trump heading up to November in picking on Canada? It’s hard to see how that would be.

If anything, this is a way that he’s differentiating himself from [former] Vice President Biden. Joe Biden has indicated he would work more closely with allies on trade issues.

There are certainly political gains to picking on China, to be seen as being be tough on China.

The underlying trade issue with aluminum is Chinese overcapacity.

That being said, there’s nothing in the trade agreement between the Trump administration and China tackling the subsidies problem.

  • A Canadian-Muslim nurse in Montreal with Pakistani roots is leading a campaign to remove the name Lionel Groulx from a metro station, Dan Bilefsky reports. The polarizing Roman Catholic championed the rights of Francophone Quebecers but also espoused virulent anti-Semitism and fascist sympathies. The proposal for the subway stop’s new name is Oscar Peterson, the Montreal born jazz virtuoso.

  • Quitters coffee shop in Stittsville, Ontario, is a regular stop for many cyclists in the Ottawa area, including me. Lindsay Zoladz tells the story of how Kathleen Edwards gave up music to open it in 2014 and why Ms. Edwards on Friday released her first album in eight years.

  • Iman Elman was born into a family of prominent peace and human rights activists in the Somali capital of Mogadishu but grew up in Ottawa. Now she is back in Somalia and, as a lieutenant colonel, she is in charge of planning and strategy for its army.

  • Brent Carver, the actor and singer who won a Tony Award for his starring role in the 1993 musical “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” died at the age of 68 at his home in Cranbrook, British Columbia. He also had an impressive theater career in Canada, including nine seasons at the Stratford Festival.

  • Placing the N.H.L. playoffs inside bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton has increased on-ice fighting. Curtis Rush and Carol Schram report from two playoff cities that rest is now more important than ever and that players are hiding injuries from opponents staying in the same hotel. And Morgan Campbell reports on how hockey, which has been plagued by acts of bigotry, is embracing Black Lives Matter campaigns.


A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.


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