MPs Brian Masse, from left, Windsor West; Cheryl Hardcastle, Windsor-Tecumseh; and Tracey Ramsey, Essex, meet with reporters after a consultation on auto tariffs with stakeholders at Ciociaro Club in Tecumseh, July 12, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

MPs Consult With Business On Tariffs

The potential impact of tariffs on Windsor-Essex industry is on the minds of the region’s three NDP members of parliament.

The MPs invited stakeholders in the local auto industry to a consultation Thursday at the Ciociaro Club in Tecumseh. Representatives from automakers, auto part suppliers, labour and management, attended and expressed their concerns over how the U.S.-imposed tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel will affect their bottom lines.

Windsor-Tecumseh MP Cheryl Hardcastle says the stakeholders’ ability to do business will likely have some effect.

“These companies are talking about being impacted, they’re talking about cash flows being impacted,” says Hardcastle. “Hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, immediately and with no notice. So it was a fairly common theme even though each of them had a bit of diversity in their story.”

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey says it’s na├»ve to believe that the tariffs will not have an impact on Windsor-Essex, but the stakeholders she and her colleagues spoke to have the same general concerns.

“We can’t control the unpredictable nature of the Trump administration,” says Ramsey. “What can we control in Canada? What can we be doing? There have been wide calls in particular around steel and aluminum to stop the transshipment, to staff up CBSA.”

The tariffs, which took effect on July 1, involve a 25% tax on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum. The imposition of the duties has caused widespread concern across Canada, particularly in industrial regions like Windsor-Essex. There has also been speculation that U.S. President Donald Trump is using tariffs as a bargaining ploy in the ongoing NAFTA renegotiations.

Windsor West MP Brian Masse says whatever the motivation seems to be, Canadian industry cannot be dragged into any personal dispute between Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“As they have their tiff in their sandbox related to their personalities, the reality is people have to pay a mortgage, they want to build a car, they want to build a product, they want actually to send a son or daughter to college, they want to engage in their community and be successful,” says Masse.

The consultation was expected to continue Thursday evening with the public invited to provide input.