Ontario premier reaches out to U.S. governors to win allies on free trade

Wynne reaches out to U.S. governors on trade

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is reaching out to U.S. governors in the hopes of winning free trade allies, fearing a proposed Buy American bill in New York state could trigger a domino effect in other states. 

Wynne talked trade in a phone call with Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Thursday afternoon, and is headed to Illinois on Monday to meet with business leaders and deliver the same pro-trade message to Gov. Bruce Rauner, the premier’s office told The Canadian Press.

Wynne has already met with the governors of Michigan and Vermont, and spoken with governors of Indiana, Wisconsin, Colorado, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Her outreach comes as New York state legislators continue a protracted debate over their state budget and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s related New York Buy American Act, which would require all state entities to buy from American companies for all procurements greater than US$100,000.

Ontario has a government relations firm on the ground in the New York, monitoring every “twitch and movement” of the evolving situation, with plans to remain there during the state legislature’s Passover/Easter recess, a senior government official said.

The conversation with Kasich this week was a “wide-ranging discussion” that lasted about 30 minutes, that began with trade, the government official said.

The premier’s message is always about making the case that free trade is essential for jobs in both jurisdictions. The conversation with Kasich also touched on areas of mutual interest, including early childhood education and auto innovation, the official said.

The broader plan is for the premier to create “a network of champions and advocates” for Ontario on trade issues in the event a “wave of protectionism” washes over the U.S., the official said.

Should a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement occur, Ontario is hoping to have strong bilateral relationships with states and “a chorus of high-profile politicians and other influencers south of the border,” who understand the importance of trade with Ontario, the official said.

New York’s Buy American legislation is particularly concerning because it the “strongest,” “most protectionist” such piece Ontario officials have seen and was quickly embraced by legislators, the official said.

That “test case,” combined with protectionist rhetoric coming from the White House, has the Ontario government studying the severity of potential negative repercussions to the province’s economy, the official said.

Wynne has said Ontario intends to seek an exemption to New York’s Buy American legislation, should it pass.

The premier and Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid have used tough language with New York, and implied Ontario could respond in kind and stop buying from New York companies, should it not receive an exemption.

“This premier is building transit, and roads, and bridges, infrastructure,” Duguid said last week. “We’ve got $160 billion in investment coming in the next 12 years and I expect New York companies are going to want to have access to that as well.”

On Friday, Duguid also said a U.S. wave of protectionism could put Ontario’s economic footing at risk.

“We are one of the leading economies in North America right now in terms of growth and job creation and there’s no question that the protectionism in the U.S. is a potential risk to the good work we’ve done to build the strong economy we have here in Ontario,” he said. 

Jessica Smith Cross , The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Quesnel Bantam Rep Hockey Tourney got off to a spirited start

Williams Lake jumped into a two-goal lead and never looked back in a 5-3

Biologist will be monitoring wildfire impacts on aqua culture and runoff

A change in runoff patterns in wildfire impacted areas could result in lakes not getting oxygenated properly

Snowy track made running very slick and slippery

Quesnel cross-country athletes dominated race and owned the podium

Curling Club Sponsor League keen on the ice

Weekly games began at the Quesnel Curling Club on Oct. 11

Silver Screen Scoundrels Quesnel performance an opportunity for a new experience

Homemade silent movie in background adds a unique atmosphere to performance

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Most Read