Canada’s premiers call on Ottawa to seek exemption from Buy American policies

SASKATOON—Canada’s premiers want the federal government to seek an exemption from the United States for its Buy American measures.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told reporters that trade was one matter being discussed at the annual premiers’ conference.

“We will be calling on our federal government to provide a stronger leadership role … in asking for an exemption with respect to the Buy American policy that is damaging many of our industries here in Canada,” Moe said at a news conference in Saskatoon.

The Buy American measures require 65 per cent local content on public transportation projects in the U.S. and that assembly be done south of the border.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the recent announcement by Bombardier of layoffs at its Thunder Bay, Ont., plant are a direct result.

“This Buy American policy down in the United States is absolutely killing us right now,” Ford said at the conference Wednesday.

“We need the federal government to continue to negotiate with the U.S. government.”

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Montreal-based Bombardier is an important company for both provinces.

“They had an important contract in the U.S. that is ending and they have (a) rough time getting more contracts in the United States because of the Buy America Act,” Legault said.

“That is why we all decided together that we need more leadership from the prime minister of Canada to negotiate an exemption.”

On his way into the conference room Wednesday, Ford also said internal trade in Canada is a problem.

“Hopefully, by the end of this conference, we’ll be able to knock down those barriers,” Ford said. “I’ve never seen more like-minded premiers sitting around a table than I did last night at dinner.”

The premiers’ gathering, which is three months ahead of the federal election, comes as some conservative leaders are decrying federal energy policies and some are taking Ottawa to court over its carbon tax.