Who Saved Canadian Steel?
International Trade Minister Stockwell Day is claiming credit for an amendment to the US stimulus bill affirming that its Buy America provisions will be “applied in a manner consistent with US obligations under international agreements.” Canada tops the list of countries to which the US has such obligations.
However, Day and his colleagues demanded the complete removal of Buy America provisions. John McCain proposed such an amendment but the Senate voted it down by a two-to-one margin. The Harper governmentâ€™s megaphone diplomacy did not work.
Fortunately, Canadian Press reported what really happened in Washington:
. . . the United Steelworkers pleaded Canadaâ€™s case to lawmakers from steel-producing states.
A written submission to the congressional steel committee from the Steelworkersâ€™ president, Canadian Leo Gerard, asked that legislators exempt Canada from the provision.
“Because we are an international union, and because Canadian and U.S. manufacturing is so integrated, we encourage you and other members of the steel caucus to approach your counterparts in Canada to discuss a co-ordinated approach,” Gerardâ€™s submission read.
Such an approach would allow “the North American industry to strengthen its ability to create and preserve these good jobs in both countries,” he said.
Of course, the nature and scope of Buy America provisions is moot unless and until the stimulus bill passes.