Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens shows off the media room at the new City Hall, June 4, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Mayor Watching Tariff Battle Closely

The potential impact of tariffs on Windsor is on the mind of Mayor Drew Dilkens.

After U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration imposed a 25% tariff on Canadian-made steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum earlier this month, Ottawa has threatened retaliatory tariffs on some American goods. The tariff issue is perceived as a significant bump in the road between these two friendly neighbours and trade partners.

The battle heated up over the weekend at the G-7 Summit in Quebec City, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would not be intimidated. Trump, who left the summit early to travel to Singapore for a widely-anticipated summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, refused to sign the communique agreed upon by the other G-7 leaders and called Trudeau “dishonest and weak”.

Windsor’s mayor told reporters last week that he has been following the tariff issue closely, as it is related to ongoing NAFTA renegotiations, something he saw firsthand earlier this year.

“I went to Washington to meet with the Council of Mayors just a couple of months ago, and talked to the different mayors of bigger cities, saying ‘Here’s the impact with respect to NAFTA,'” said Dilkens. “Tariffs are really, I think, just an unfortunate step to get to a final NAFTA agreement.”

With Windsor-Essex dependent on the auto industry, Dilkens is hoping a new NAFTA agreement is reached quickly. Otherwise, the likelihood of trouble increases the longer the wait lasts.

“If they can get a NAFTA deal done in the next 30 days, I don’t think the tariff is going to be really harmful to the city of Windsor and the businesses here in the city,” said Dilkens. “But, if it drags on for any length of time, then I think it could have negative consequences which certainly would be bad for businesses and bad for employment.”

Ontario Premier-designate Doug Ford weighed in on the issue Sunday with a tweet.