Finance

Canadian Steel CEO Blasts Trudeau Government’s ‘Ego’ For Failure On Tariffs

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief

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).

Chairman, CEO and President of Nucor John Ferriola and U.S. Steel CEO Dave Burritt flank U.S. President Donald Trump as he announces that the United States will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum during a meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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.

(RELATED: Trump Announces New Tariffs On Aluminum And Steel)

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.”

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer shake hands after a NAFTA trilateral ministerial press event in Washington, October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer shake hands after a NAFTA trilateral ministerial press event in Washington, October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

“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 … ”

(RELATED: Canadian Foreign Minister Negotiating NAFTA Participates In Forum Linking Trump To Dictators)

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.

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