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20 June 2018

Donald Trump’s protectionist policies: we will defend the jobs of Quebecers

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Québec’s economy is threatened by Donald Trump’s protectionist policies.

There was softwood lumber.

There was newsprint.

There was Boeing’s assault on Bombardier.

There’s uncertainty surrounding the renewal of NAFTA.

There’s supply management.

Now, it’s tariffs of 20% on steel and 10% on aluminum.

These tariff barriers are unjust, illegal and counterproductive.

If some doubt the risk, remember this: half of Québec’s economy is exports; and three-quarters of our exports go to the United States.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Québec is under direct threat. That’s a matter of fact.

Today, there are American buyers that are severing business ties with Québec suppliers.

We will defend the jobs of Quebecers.

We will defend our workers.

We will defend our entrepreneurs.

We will defend our farmers.

Yesterday, the Executive Council held a special session with business and union leaders to discuss the different issues and the actions to take in these extraordinary circumstances.

We want to create a model of Québec-style collaboration.

In July, we will meet with Québec partners, as we have done in the past, concerning NAFTA and Donald Trump’s protectionist measures.

Today, we identified the main measures that we will implement.

Our action plan for defending Quebecers’ jobs and Québec’s SMEs and farmers will include two types of action: denunciation and mitigation.

It will evolve and adapt to the circumstances.


Denunciation is a diplomatic gesture.

I’ll be in Washington on Tuesday for a series of meetings with elected officials and representatives of the Trump administration.

I’ll condemn the tariffs while reminding our American neighbours that it’s their economy that will suffer.

For every job in steel or aluminum that these measures help create in the United States, 16 jobs will be lost in other sectors of the American economy.

I’ll forge alliances with those in the United States who think like us.

I’ll be in New York next Thursday, in another context, for a Foreign Policy Association event, and here again, in another forum, I will make the same arguments.

The Council of the Federation and the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers’ Annual Conference, which are both held in the third week of July, will also be opportunities for our government to be present and to condemn American protectionism.

In addition, this morning I contacted the Premier-designate of Ontario, Doug Ford, so that our respective administrations can start working together to identify joint initiatives for the short term. We have to keep in mind that Ontario and Québec represent more than 58% of the GDP (2016, ISQ) and more than 61% of the Canadian population.

We are also planning short trade missions led by the Minister of Economy or the Minister of International Relations with companies to meet with their political and commercial counterparts.

We will denounce, yes, but also attenuate.

We will seek to mitigate the effects of protectionist measures on our workers and our entrepreneurs.

We will do this by seeking to replace the lost contracts with local purchasing and by facilitating access to new markets.

We ask the companies losing contracts because of the new measures to speak up.

We will first see if their products could find buyers in Québec and elsewhere in Canada.

And we will encourage Québec companies that use American suppliers to look for a Québec supplier.

We must promote local purchasing even more, especially for public markets.

Different solutions could generate more local economic benefits in the context of public markets, while respecting our trade agreements, of course:

  • Within the thresholds provided for in our trade agreements, we will oblige Québec contracting bodies to use Québec suppliers;
  • We will encourage Québec contracting bodies to use Québec suppliers.

We also want to support the workers at risk in our SMEs in the steel and aluminum sector, who could suffer the impacts of the Trump administration’s various measures.

In this regard, I am announcing that we will raise the financial contribution of Emploi-Québec from 50% to 85% for training costs, including the wages of participating employees.

Mitigating the effects of protectionist measures also means finding other markets in order to be less dependent on the American market.

The EU market is open to Québec businesses.

There are opportunities to seize.

We will arrange training session for entrepreneurs to quickly show them how to gain a foothold in European Union countries.

We will organize new information sessions to better take advantage of our number one common market, Canada.

There are opportunities to seize within Canada.

Internal trade has been facilitated since the signing of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement on July 1, 2017. The export of goods and services from Québec to the rest of Canada stood at $72.1 billion, according to data from economic accounts. Our team firmly intends to increase trade with our partners in the federation.

We will also begin preparatory work this summer to take advantage of the coming into effect of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which could be signed in the near future.

Québec has changed.

Québec has transformed itself.

Québec is doing better.

Québec’s economy is doing well; it’s doing better. Québec’s economy is strong.

And that’s thanks to our team’s determination to re-balance the budget and give ourselves the essential means to finance government projects and create reserves for a rainy day.

We have proved our competence and our ability to act.

We will do everything to protect our SMEs, our workers, our communities, our farmers.

We will stick together.

We will hold steady.

Philippe Couillard
Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party
Premier of Québec