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MP Calkins blasts U.S. attitude on trade

As the United States dives further into the protectionist pond, Blaine Calkins is wondering why the pot is calling the kettle black.
Blaine Calkins

As the United States dives further into the protectionist pond, Blaine Calkins is wondering why the pot is calling the kettle black.

Calkins, the MP for Red Deer-Lacombe has called out U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration for its attack on the Canadian dairy and softwood lumber industries in recent weeks. Calkins essentially stated that the U.S. is its own worse enemy in those two sectors and that it needs to mind its own business before trying to take down Canadians.

“Notwithstanding whether supply management is good or bad policy, that is a decision that Canadians get to make. Just on the fact that Donald Trump is so ill-informed on the issues is what frustrates me and many people,” he said during an interview while visiting Ponoka last week.

“I understand that he has an electorate that he is trying to keep happy, but he needs to actually approach this with facts.”

On the dairy front, the U.S. has said it will aim its sights on getting more products into markets north of the 49th parallel while also targeting alleged dumping of Canadian dairy products into the American marketplace.

For Calkins, that’s precisely where the U.S. misunderstanding begins.

“The reality is that Canada’s dairy supply management system does not dump any product into the United States. In fact, over $400 million worth of U.S. products cross the Canadian border because they are not caught by the tariff,” he explained.

“It’s complete hypocrisy on Donald Trump’s part to espouse protectionism for the United States and then blast Canada for its dairy protectionist policy.”

He also stated the big problem south of the border is the predominance of passing massive farm bills that subsidize agriculture.

“They cater to that vote and that’s fine, but the over-production of milk is a direct result of those subsidies. By getting rid of supply management and opening up the border, means that every producer in Canada would be out of a job,” Calkins said.

“If we are expected to give up supply management then the Americans have to give up the subsidies and let’s compete on an equal playing field.”

Moving over to softwood lumber, which the U.S. has imposed a 20 per cent duty on once it crosses the border, he believes the issue will once again be overturned by the Canada-U.S. trade commission.

He added the Trudeau government seems to suffer from a lack of vision on this issue and has been scrambling for answers. His plan, along with the rest of his party, is to send the government a message about what they believe is the best path in dealing with the U.S.

“We are in a cage with an 800 pound gorilla and they are going to do what they want. Canada must take this seriously and given the path the Trump administration is taking by not having a respectful dialogue with its neighbour and largest trading partner,” he said. “Then we need to follow through on our other trade deals and diversify our market access on food, energy or other products.”