As Canada slapped its counter-tariffs against the U.S. Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was shaking hands and taking selfies with Evraz steelworkers and their families at a barbeque in Regina.
“I’m glad to be here to remind everyone that Canadians stand up for each other. That’s what we do and I’m glad to do it,” he said.
The Canadian retaliatory tariffs amount to $16.6 billion on a range of American imports — from playing cards to ketchup — and come in response to the Trump administration’s decision to add duties on U.S. steel and aluminum imports from Canada and other allies.
Trudeau reinforced his government’s stance in a phone call to President Donald Trump on Friday, telling him Canada has had “no choice” but to take retaliatory measures against the U.S. tariffs.
“We are responding to it — dollar for dollar in retaliation — to make it abundantly clear that we will not just be victims of American policy and that we’re going to fight back,” said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who joined the Prime Minister while on his stop in Regina.
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Visiting the Evraz steel plant was the lone item on Trudeau’s Canada Day agenda in the Queen City.
The Prime Minister said he didn’t have plans to stop at the Justice for our Stolen Children Camp across from the Saskatchewan Legislature, which has been protesting for Indigenous rights within the justice and foster care system for more than 120 days. However, he noted the federal government continues to “engage deeply with leaders and communities” and Minister Goodale, who is the MP for Regina-Wascana, has met with the camp.
“We understand there is a significant amount of provincial issues (protesters) are concerned about, but we recognize that a true nation to nation relationship around reconciliation requires that all levels of government step up and work together,” Trudeau said. “We look forward to working with all orders of government and with Indigenous peoples on this.”
While in Regina, Trudeau also offered direct comment for the first time on allegations against him from 2000 that alleges he groped a reporter at an event in Creston, B.C.
“I remember that day in Creston well, it was an Avalanche Foundation event to support avalanche safety. I had a good day that day. I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all,” he said.
Reporters didn’t have the opportunity to ask any follow-ups after Trudeau answered one question on the issue Sunday.
Trudeau’s visit in Regina was the second of three he made across the country on Canada Day.
The Prime Minister’s first stop was in Leamington, Ont. to visit workers at the canning and food processing factory that produces the tomato paste used in French’s ketchup. His final destination was in Dawson City, Yukon for a Canada Day community barbeque.
— With files from the Canadian Press