Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada on Friday hammered President Donald Trump’s decision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on several of its trade partners while calling it “insulting and unacceptable” to frame the measure as a response to a national security threat.
Trudeau said the tariffs were particularly offensive to his country’s service members, who he pointed out have fought alongside U.S. troops using the very same steel and aluminum imports Trump is seeking to exact penalties on.
“Our soldiers who had fought and died together on the beaches of World War II . and the mountains of Afghanistan, and have stood shoulder to shoulder in some of the most difficult places in the world, that are always there for each other, somehow – this is insulting to them,” Trudeau said during an interview with NBC News from his Parliament office in Ottawa.
The Trump administration on Thursday imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union. The action came after months of posturing between the president and foreign leaders on trade, with Trump vowing to crack down on what he has characterized as unfair trade practices by foreign nations with the U.S.
Discussing Trump’s decision to impose levies on Thursday, the White House National Trade Council director, Peter Navarro, framed the issue as a matter of national security.
“This particular action on steel and aluminum is not about unfair trade practices,” Navarro told Fox Business. “It’s about national security. . Without an aluminum steel industry, we don’t have a country.”
Trudeau appeared to take exception to Navarro’s rationale in speaking to NBC.
“The idea that the Canadian steel that’s in military, military vehicles in the United States, the Canadian aluminum that makes your, your fighter jets is somehow now a threat?” he said. “The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable.”
In response to the U.S. action, Canada retaliated on Thursday by announcing it would impose its own trade barriers on American steel, aluminum and other products. The Canadian foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said the new levies would match U.S. tariffs dollar for dollar.
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