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Ford heads to Washington to promote trade


Ford heads to Washington to promote trade

Premier Doug Ford is off to Washington to promote new Ontario legislation designed to keep trade flowing at the border.

Ford’s trip is designed to allay U.S. concerns about doing business with Ontario in the wake of last month’s blockade of the Ambassador Bridge.

The premier will be in the American capital on Monday to meet with President Joe Biden’s under secretary of commerce for international trade Marisa Lago and assistant U.S. trade representative for the western hemisphere Daniel Watson.

“There’s never been a better time for companies to invest in the future of Ontario,” Ford said in a statement Sunday.

“As we attract more skilled workers and build the roads, highways, bridges and transit needed to move our economy forward, we’re meeting face-to-face with some of our closest partners to reaffirm the unrivaled potential of Ontario’s economy,” the premier said.

“That’s why it’s so important that we reject Buy American measures and instead keep working shoulder to shoulder to ensure that our highly integrated economies grow stronger than ever.”

He wants to assure American power brokers that Ontario remains a stable place to invest and will tout upcoming legislation designed to curb protests that threaten to disrupt vital infrastructure like bridges, a source told the Star.

While in Washington, he and Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli will hold a roundtable with the Canadian American Business Council later Monday.

During the so-called “freedom convoy” occupations at the border in Windsor and at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, which received a large amount of U.S. media attention, Ford was an outspoken critic of the pandemic protesters.

“The ongoing illegal occupation and blockade happening in Ontario must stop. The Ambassador Bridge is one of the most vital trade corridors in our country,” Ford said last month.

“The damage this is causing to our economy, to people’s jobs and their livelihoods is totally unacceptable. We cannot let this continue.”

On March 3, after the demonstrators had been cleared out, the premier warned such blockades by anti-lockdown or anti-vaccination scofflaws would not be tolerated.


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“I can assure you that I will make sure it doesn’t happen again, no matter if it’s in Ottawa or holding up our trade corridors on the bridge that cost us $700 million every single day,” he said.

“We live in Canada. We just can’t tolerate people holding a million people hostage.”

Ford, who supported Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s invoking of the Emergencies Act to end the Ottawa occupation, has been working closely with the federal government in recent months.

Ford was with Trudeau last Wednesday to announce provincial and federal payouts of $131.6 million apiece toward Honda’s $1.38 billion update of the massive Alliston factory that employs 4,200 people.

“These investments will ensure Honda Canada builds its next generation models, like hybrids, right here in Ontario to be sold right across North America,” he said at the time.

“This means the cars of the future will be built right here by Ontario workers using Ontario resources.”

The two governments, which are expected to soon reach a $10-a-day child care deal worth more than $10.2 billion, will be announcing further investments in the electric vehicle sector in the days ahead.

Ford and Trudeau have been worried about Biden’s protectionist Buy American policies that would encourage automakers to manufacture EVs in the U.S.

The premier has said Canadian cars and trucks must be excluded from any Buy American legislation.

“We’re their number-one customer. If Ontario was a stand-alone country itself, it would be the third-largest trading partner,” Ford said last November.

“We’re the number-one trading partner to 19 states and number two to nine others. We’re connected at the hips, so we need to be excluded from that line.”

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

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