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After Trump bans mask exports, "infuriated" Canadians remind U.S. they helped during 9/11

Will Trump use the Defense Production Act?

Some "infuriated" Canadians are questioning President Trump's ban on exports of N95 masks to America's neighbor to the north. One Canadian leader responded to Mr. Trump's restriction by reminding the world that Canada stepped up to help Americans after the September 11th attacks. 

"To say that I'm infuriated by the recent actions of President Trump of the United States is an understatement," Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball told the Associated Press. "I cannot believe for a second that in a time of crisis that President Trump would even think about banning key medical supplies to Canada."

On 9/11, 7,000 airline passengers on flights to and from the U.S. were grounded in Newfoundland, Canada, were residents offered them safe harbor. The small town of Gander only had about 500 hotel rooms, former Gander Mayor Claude Elliott said, but volunteers and the Canadian military made sure everyone had a place to stay. 

The story of the town's generosity toward the passengers even inspired the hit Broadway musical, "Come from Away." It exemplifies how humanity prevails, even during the darkest times. 

Now, Premier Ball is reminding Mr. Trump of that generosity. "Newfoundland and Labrador will never give up on humanity. We will not hesitate for one second if we had to repeat what we did on 9-11. We would do it again," Ball said in the AP interview.

"This is a time when we need to work together to continue to protect our residents and keep them safe from COVID-19 no mater where they live or what passport they hold," he continued.

Elliott, who served as Gander's mayor for 21 years, also spoke out on the matter. "I understand the United States is going through a very dramatic time, especially in New York, and they need a lot of supplies, but we're fighting an enemy that is just not one state, it's the whole world," Elliott said. "And when we come to those times of tragedy in our life, we need everybody helping each other."

Some Canadians tweeted about their disappointment in Mr. Trump's restriction. "Remember when Canada took in stranded US planes on 9/11, sent troops to die alongside US soldiers in Afghanistan, sent help to New Orleans after Katrina? Because Donald Trump clearly doesn't," Canadian TV executive Troy Reeb wrote.

Mitch Garber, an investor and member of the Order of Canada, wrote: "Today Canadians are deeply disappointed in @realDonaldTrump's actions regarding the availability of @3M masks in Canada. It's worth noting that these masks are made with Canadian produced pulp, & Canada will not withhold that pulp, because that is not how countries act."

Last month, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, which gives the government broad authority to direct companies to meet national defense needs. Mr. Trump recently exercised that power when he ordered the Minnesota-based company 3M to stop selling surgical masks abroad.

Last week, 3M pushed back against Mr. Trump's restriction. In a statement, 3M said that the company and its employees "have gone above and beyond to manufacture as many N95 respirators as possible for the U.S. market." The statement added that there would be "significant humanitarian implications" if the company had to stop supplying masks to Canada and Latin American countries.

The company added that it is working to combat "unethical and illegal" price-gouging and unauthorized reselling of its products.

Canada, which has at least 15,940 confirmed coronavirus cases — substantially fewer than the United States, with over 337,900 — is still in dire need of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers. 

500,000 masks were held up at the U.S.-Canada border on Sunday due to Mr. Trump's restriction, an Ontario government source said, according to Global News. Ontario Premier Doug Ford initially misstated that 3 million masks were held at the border.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not confirm that the shipment of masks was blocked. "We are working very closely with all provinces and monitoring the levels of personal protective equipment and the challenges they're facing," Trudeau said during a press briefing on Monday.

Last week, the prime minister said he was "confident" this matter would be resolved and he looked forward to speaking with Mr. Trump about it. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne about the matter on Monday. 

"They discussed national and international cooperation to contain COVID-19 transmissions and to address the public health threat caused by the pandemic," Pompeo's spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. "Secretary Pompeo reiterated the United States' desire to work with Canada to ensure the viability of international supply chains for crucial medical supplies and personnel, while also meeting the needs of regions with the most severe outbreaks."

The two officials "also reviewed efforts to repatriate their citizens from cruise ships and third countries," the statement reads, referring to two cruise ships carrying passengers stricken with coronavirus. The ships were recently allowed to dock in Florida, but some passengers from other countries like Canada have not been allowed to disembark the ships.

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