BOSTON (CBS) - President Trump loves to talk tough about trade wars, and no wonder - the promise of cracking down on "unfair" foreign trading practices and thus preserving US jobs and profits is a key reason why he got elected.
But as we've seen in the six weeks since he slapped tariffs on a range of Canadian goods, even our friendliest allies are capable of serious pushback. If the White House thought Canadians would buckle in the face of tariffs and tough talk, they'd better think again.
"It's a sentiment that is resonating right across the country," said a Canadian national TV anchor introducing a recent story about restaurants dropping US wines from their menus and hot dog lovers shunning Heinz ketchup. And amid predictions of more pain to come. American businesses are already feeling the sting of retaliatory Canadian tariff, like the 25% tax they've slapped on imports from a Spokane, Washington distillery.
"It makes me uncompetitive in the marketplace," complains the owner.
Canadians appear dry-eyed about that. The backlash, says an official of a major private-sector Canadian union which has launched an "I Shop Canada" campaign online, is "about the fact that we are being attacked by Donald Trump and the United States, and as a nation we really need to pull together." That campaign has sparked offshoots like a website steering shoppers to Canadian products.
And from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau comes rhetoric that ought to alarm New England businesses that rely on Canadian tourism: "I'm always one to encourage Canadians to discover our extraordinary country, to take vacations here at home, to continue to buy Canadian, and if Canadians are looking for extra reasons to do so then so be it."
Leading republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Ted Cruz warned against the unintended economic consequences of starting these trade wars. And judging from the backlash, they had a good point.
Many Republicans now fear these tariffs will step on the economic recovery and cost them at the polls in November, all because the Trump administration seemed to forget that while we may be the most powerful nation on earth, that doesn't mean others are powerless.
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