Ottawa Journal (March 22 – March 26, 2021)
David Tilson, M.P. (Dufferin-Caledon)
Canadians work hard to provide the best quality of life for their families. However, 2009 proved to be a challenging year for many economies. The global economic recession left many worried about job security and some found it a challenge to make ends meet. The recession has created unique circumstances for us all and that’s why our Government delivered Canada’s Economic Action Plan – to help Canadians through the difficulties which we have all faced.
Unfortunately, during the economic downturn, protectionist forces in the United States Congress loudly imposed rules which forced American stimulus money to be only used to purchase goods and services from American companies, shutting out many Canadian manufacturers.
What American legislators failed to realize is that Canadian companies all across our country provide important goods and services to many cities, towns, and communities in the United States, especially for infrastructure projects. This led to some outlandish examples of protectionism. For example, American cities were paying very high prices for goods which were actually much cheaper to purchase in Canada, but to purchase them from our country was impossible due to the Buy American rules. In a few other cases, American infrastructure projects funded by American stimulus dollars that were close to completion and had used Canadian products were actually ripped out of the ground, just because Canadian products had been used.
Realizing the impact of these unfair Buy American rules on Canadian companies, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and our Government has been working with our partners in the Obama Administration to find a solution to this serious problem.
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama met over the course of the year, they worked closely on the issue of the Buy American rules, including the roughly $800-billion worth of contracts that were off-limits to Canadian workers. In addition, they also discussed the discriminating rules that were placed on other foreign firms who happened to use Canadian suppliers. Prime Minster Harper also discussed the positive outcomes that could come to both countries by ending such unfair rules.
Our Government stood up for Canadian businesses and workers in resolving this issue with our American partners. We reached an important joint agreement in February of this year, signaling our Government’s success in convincing President Obama to end the Buy American provisions.
Canadian suppliers can now access work projects in the United States and in the case of the American Recovery Act, Canadian companies now have access to U.S. state and local projects in a range of areas including programs for the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, Canada and the United States have agreed to establish a fast-track consultation process, if similar Buy American provisions are applied to future funding programs by a protectionist U.S. Congress.
Not only will this development help create new jobs and protect already existing ones, it is another step forward in our trading relationship with the United States. This agreement demonstrates the importance of our continued strong trading relationship.
Despite the challenges created by the global economic recession, our Government has responded with real action. Canada’s Economic Action Plan is delivering the right help for families, workers, and businesses and now, after our agreement with the United States – Canadians have even more opportunities for success. Our Government will continue to deliver the right help when it’s needed, so that workers and businesses in Canada can experience a successful and prosperous future.