(Open letter to Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture)
A warm welcome to Atlantic Canada. We hope you enjoy your visit today with our federal agriculture minister, Lawrence MacAulay, with whom you have developed a friendship.
We see that you will be discussing agricultural and seafood co-operation between our two countries. Atlantic Canada has a longtime trade relationship with the U.S. in seafood, lumber, agriculture and many other products. It will be an opportunity to recognize that our industries are integrated and that tariffs hurt both countries.
This week is an auspicious time for your visit, in light of the damaging dispute over trade barriers. We know you have a rapport with the president and your voice of reason is needed today around his cabinet table. Canada needs your support in Washington.
U.S. unemployment is at record low levels, the economy is strong, the stock market is booming, and you have a $4-billion trade surplus with Canada. Doesn’t this suggest NAFTA is working, especially for the U.S.? Why does President Donald Trump think it’s such a bad deal?
We’ve been surprised at the president’s outbursts against our country and our prime minister, and at his unfair tariffs and the threats of further punitive action. It’s urgent that we reach a fair solution quickly.
When you discuss NAFTA and other bilateral issues today, remember that Atlantic Canada has a special relationship with the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of Atlantic Canadians moved to the U.S. over the past 100 years or so. We fought and died in various wars together. These are ties that bind.
We hope your president accepts Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball’s invitation to attend the Broadway musical “Come from Away” together. The premier can speak for all of Atlantic Canada on the virtues of a positive relationship with the U.S., because each of our provinces has a historic connection with America.
The musical tells the story of how Gander, N.L., welcomed thousands of stranded airline passengers — mostly Americans — after the 9-11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center. Other communities, including Halifax, sheltered thousands as well.
We don’t know why Trump is being critical of America’s longtime ally. Verbal attacks against our country are especially hurtful when they come from someone who is supposed to be a friend. All parties in the House of Commons support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to retaliate with our own tariffs. Canadians are united on this issue and we won’t back down. In short, we won’t be bullied.
We’re confused about Trump’s concerns. First it was lumber, then steel and aluminum, then auto manufacturing, and finally, an admission the real target is dairy. Will it be something else tomorrow?
You can talk straight facts in Washington. We know you can make a difference. Good luck.
—Your friends in Atlantic Canada
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