Canadians boycott American goods in wake of trade disputes

Global Business

This week, Canada implemented import tariffs on U.S. goods worth almost $13 billion. It is in retaliation for steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the United States. The items targeted by Canada are meant to maximize the political pain on states that voted for Donald Trump.

On a grassroots level, Canadians are also trying to make a statement with their wallets by boycotting U.S. goods and travel to the U.S.

CGTN’s Karina Huber reports.

In this Toronto suburb of Halton Hills, the city council recently passed a resolution encouraging its residents to boycott U.S. products. It passed unanimously.

“There’s time you have to show Canadian backbone instead of Canadian backbacon,” said Rick Bonnette, the mayor of Halton Hills.

Bonnette says he pushed for the resolution after the U.S. imposed import tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum for national security reasons. He says the boycott really gained momentum after Donald Trump’s appearance at the June G7 summit near Quebec City.

“The president was sort of like that bad dinner guest – he showed up late, left early and insulted the host,” said Bonnette.

After the meeting, Trump called Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “meek and mild” and “dishonest and weak” in a tweet. It was in response to a statement from Trudeau saying Canadians are polite but won’t be pushed around.

All across Canada people are protesting Trump’s policies with their pocketbooks. On social media, you’ll find hashtags like #TrumpFree and #BoycottUSA. Bonnette admits his mandate to boycott U.S. goods is largely symbolic. It’s not easy to buy Canadian – so much of what you’ll find in stores here is imported from the U.S. Perhaps a more effective way to hit the U.S. economy is to for Canadians to avoid travel there. That’s what Adam Rathwell and his wife are doing. They are about to celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary. They planned to go to Chicago but after the G7 summit they chose Quebec City instead.

“A lot of people in Trump country do rely on tourism and I think that that’s one way that we can kind of get the message out that we are reliant on each other and we’re not the enemy,” said Rathwell.

Canada is the largest source country of international travel to the United States. In 2016, more than 19 million Canadians visited the U.S. Rathwell says boycotting the U.S. pains him. His mother is American and his brother served in the U.S. Marines.

“I want the United States to be better. I want us to be friends again as countries. I want to go to the States but right now I just can’t. My conscience and my morals will not let me go there,” he said.

With tensions between Canada and the U.S. running at a recent all-time high, it’s a sentiment many Canadians can relate to.