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Canadians smuggling shoes out of U.S., Trump suggests in stoking tariff fight

American allies fume over new tariffs amid G-7 summit

In the eyes of President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not only "weak," but he also leads a nation of shoe smugglers.

Mr. Trump's latest volley in his critique of Canadian trade practices came during a speech delivered Tuesday to the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Apparently referencing an opinion piece by Canadian journalist Isabel Vincent published last week in the New York Post, Trump said: 

"There was a story two days ago in a major newspaper talking about people living in Canada, coming into the United States, and smuggling things back into Canada because the tariffs are so massive. The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle them in. They buy shoes, then they wear them. They scuff them up. They make them sound old or look old."

Mr. Trump's remarks prompted amused commentary from Americans and Canadians on social media, with one person taking to twitter to ponder when the U.S. would be building a "northern border wall," and another wondering how those "wily Canadians had gotten away with so much for so long while faking nice."

In her article, Vincent relayed how she and her extended family got around tariffs by hiding shoes, jeans and other U.S. goods they brought back across the border. One acquaintance cut off the price tags and dusted up new outdoor equipment to smuggle in what "he simply couldn't find in Canada," she wrote. Her nephew, she added, concealed expensive Italian shoes in his backpack to deliver to a Toronto-based designer.

While Vincent likely isn't alone in smuggling less expensive or hard-to-get-items into Canada, as multiple Twitter users have fessed up to doing, Mr. Trump's focus on shoes seems to lie outside the U.S. talks with Canada over renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Under NAFTA, the U.S. does not tax shoes imported from Canada, and Canada doesn't impose tariffs on footwear made in the U.S.