By Dan Albas
The 1988 Canadian federal election was one of the most important in recent Canadian history.
At that time the Conservative Brian Mulroney Government had successfully negotiated our first free trade agreement with the United States.
It was not without controversy.
At the time, the Liberal Party led by John Turner, ran election attack ads on TV showing the Canada/USA border being erased and asked “Just how much are we giving away?” and concluded with the statement “This is more than an election — this is your future”.
Here in the Okanagan, there were media reports of some local vintners threatening to tear out entire vineyards fearing they could not compete with the massive California wine industry.
Today we know that not only can our local vintners compete, but they can thrive and produce some of the best wines in the world.
Many people from outside of Canada now know and visit the Okanagan not unlike how Napa Valley has been known for decades.
The US president now calls trade deals with countries such as Canada, the worst the United States has ever signed.
To date all efforts to successfully renegotiate NAFTA have failed and at an awkward Canada-USA news conference of NAFTA negotiators it was revealed there have been no talks for roughly two weeks now.
This week in Ottawa a number of business people in the Canadian aluminum and steel industries spoke in very blunt terms over the very real prospect of serious job losses.
On July 1, Canada’s retaliatory counter tariffs against a variety of USA imported and produced goods will be implemented that will make the USA produced goods more expensive for Canadians to buy.
This is not unlike how it was recently reported that the U.S. tariff on Canadian softwood lumber has increased the price of an average new home built in the United States by roughly $9,000.
The list of items produced in the U.S. that will be subject to a 10 per cent increase on July 1 as a result of the Liberals tariff counter-measures is extensive.
Items include yogurt, coffee, pizza, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, soups, dishwasher detergent, toilet paper, and some appliances.
Obviously many Canadians will face higher prices in grocery stores as a result of these tariff increases.
It has been suggested that the Liberals, where possible, have attempted to strategically implement these tariffs to maximize political impact on the home states where these items are produced.
Obviously after July 1 when these tariffs go into effect, check the country of origin on items you buy.
That may explain price changes.
Hopefully these retaliatory tariff changes do not encourage further retaliation from the United States against more Canadian produced goods as the US market remains Canada’s largest trading partner.
One thing is for certain, consumers lose when tariffs are implemented.
As we approach Canada Day, I believe we should all stand united in the hope that we can soon see a return to the NAFTA table and a successful agreement.
My question this week:
Do you support increased retaliatory tariffs that also increase costs on US produced goods sold in Canada?
Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola. He can reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.