OTTAWA — A Canadian steel CEO told the House of Commons international trade committee Thursday that the Trudeau government has “blown it” on getting U.S. tariffs lifted.
Barry Zekelman of Zekelman Industries let out a tirade against Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s “ego,” which he says is the primary reason 25-percent tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum remain in place, despite the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA).
Zekelman says he could call U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and “this can be solved. Literally, I can do it this afternoon,” he told the committee.
When some Members of Parliament appeared unbelieving that Zekelman could deliver on that promise, he told them, “How do I know that? I’ve talked to Mr. Lighthizer myself.”
“We’re waiting for someone’s ego. They need to get into a room and get the deal done,” he said, noting that it depends on whether “Freeland picks up the phone … ”
Zekelman, who says he has met socially with Trump and knows Lighthizer, insists the administration is only waiting for Canada to agree to a quota on its steel exports.
“We could have had that a long time ago. This is the worst negotiating I’ve seen,” Zekelman told the committee.