Canada hoping its own tariff threat will prompt U.S. climbdown: Morneau

WHISTLER, B.C. _ Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he’s hopeful that Canada’s threat of retaliation against U.S. trade measures will convince the Trump administration to back down from the steel and aluminum tariffs it has imposed on its G7 allies.

The tariffs have landed just as Morneau presides over a G7 finance ministers’ meeting in Whistler, B.C., where the event’s pre-set agenda has been overtaken by talk of protectionism and fears of the opening salvos in a protracted trade war.

Morneau says the federal government isn’t quite ready to discuss support or potential bailout packages for those Canadian sectors caught in the crossfire.

He says the focus now is to use Canada’s threat of retaliatory measures as a way to make the U.S. reconsider its own tariffs before any negative economic impacts actually materialize.

Ottawa has responded to the new U.S. duties with a package of retaliatory tariffs of its own _ but they don’t come into force until July.

Morneau has called the tariffs absurd and warns they will destroy jobs on both sides of the border.

“We’ve specifically put forth … countermeasures that demonstrate our view that this is unproductive, and we see that response as being a way to get us back to the table so the impacts actually don’t happen,” said Morneau.

The issue will make Friday’s meetings difficult, he added.

“You harm people in the United States, you harm people in Canada. It is not helping either of our economies and it’s certainly not going to be a positive discussion around the table later today.”