A bit ironic that Harper the great admirer of U.S. conservatism should be chastising the Americans on Fox News of all places! Harper is spouting the standard global capitalist line. Obama himself is a bit more subdued because emphasizing global free trade is not all that popular in the U.S. during a period when times are tough and U.S. jobs are still disappearing often outsourced. All of this is good for corporate donations especially when many Canadian businesses depend upon exports to the US so that Buy American policies can be quite damaging to those companies. Requirements that there be country of origin labels on meat products is also a burden to many Canadian producers.
Harper tells U.S. Buy American 'biggest risk' to global economy
The protectionist move could spark retaliation by Canadian cities and provinces, shutting U.S. companies out of key projects, the prime minister said in an interview with Fox News
By Sheldon Alberts, Canwest News ServiceJune 13, 2009
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a personal appeal to the United States on Friday to abandon controversial Buy American rules governing its $787 billion US economic stimulus package, warning the country risks triggering a trade war with Canada and sending the "worst possible signal" to the rest of the world.
In an interview with Fox News Channel, Harper said the U.S. faced a "significant threat" of retaliation over the Buy American clause from Canadian provinces and cities that intend on shutting U.S. companies out of bidding on Canadian infrastructure projects.
"Quite frankly the biggest risk we have to global economy recovery is an increase in protectionism," Harper told Fox host Neil Cavuto in a wide-ranging discussion on the economy and Canada-U.S. bilateral issues.
"The worst possible signal that we could send to the world right now would be an increase in protection and particularly a procurement trade war between Canada and the United States."
Harper's call for the reversal of the Buy American provisions came a day after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters joined forces to demand the prime minister and President Barack Obama take a leadership role on the issue.
Companies on both sides of the border complain they're already losing millions of dollars in stimulus contracts because of Buy American provisions that mandate only U.S.-produced steel, iron and manufactured goods be used in stimulus-funded projects.
The clause has essentially shut Canadian companies out from bidding on municipal infrastructure projects in the U.S., because local U.S. governments are not bound by international trade agreements that Washington must respect in awarding the stimulus contracts.
Of the $787 billion to be spent on economic stimulus in the U.S., up to $280 billion is expected to be awarded at the municipal level.
Harper also dismissed the possibility his minority Conservative government might fall in a potential non-confidence vote being considered by the opposition Liberal party in reaction to the prime minister's recent economic report, in which he suggested Ottawa's own stimulus package was helping steer the Canadian economy out of recession.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he will take the weekend to decide whether to back the government or try to bring it down.
"Nobody wants to see an election right now, just as we are starting to see some of the effects of the recession ease," Harper said.
Harper endorsed Obama's efforts to reboot the U.S. economy with massive deficit spending, saying he had sympathy for the economic predicament the new president inherited upon taking office in January.
"The problem is when the house is on fire, the first thing you have to do is: you have to bring out the hoses and spray water all over it. You can't worry if you are flooding the basement."