Ontario Premier Doug Ford travels to Washington on Monday for a trade mission


This article is part of Watching Washington, a regular dispatch from CBC News correspondents reporting on US politics and developments affecting Canadians.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford will travel to Washington on Monday for high-level meetings with Biden administration officials and business leaders, according to a senior source in the province.

The trip is described as a trade mission aimed at attracting more skilled workers to Ontario, while highlighting the damage caused by U.S. protectionist policies.

It will be the Prime Minister’s first visit to the United States since blockades protesting pandemic mandates closed the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., disrupting the vital trade corridor for days and costing millions of dollars.

According to the source, “Premier Ford will also reaffirm that Ontario is a safe and reliable jurisdiction for investment and business.”

Ford travels with Vic Fideli, Minister of Economic Development and Trade.

The official agenda includes meetings with Marisa Lago, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, and Daniel Watson, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the Western Hemisphere.

Ford will also participate in a roundtable with members of the Canadian American Business Council.

The context

US President Joe Biden is aggressively pursuing Buy American policies as a way to create new jobs and grow the economy. It was an important part of his State of the Union address and is a priority for the White House.

Biden is particularly interested in expanding electric vehicle production in the United States, although legislation aimed at bolstering the sector has not garnered enough support in Congress.

The Canadian and Ontario governments are adamantly against Biden’s electric vehicle policy proposal, arguing it would kill jobs in Canada’s auto sector.

American customers would get thousands of dollars in tax breaks for buying an electric vehicle made in the United States, even more if it is built by unionized workers.

Canadian politicians aggressively pressured US lawmakers to change the policy to include Canadian labor or kill it all together.

The trip also comes at a time when some U.S. lawmakers view Canada as an unreliable trading partner.

Michigan Democrat Elissa Slotkin used the pandemic mandate protests that closed the Ambassador Bridge as an example of why the United States should rely less on its foreign trading partners.

On Twitter, she wrote, “It doesn’t matter if it’s an adversary or an ally, we can’t depend so much on parts from foreign countries.”

Canadian Commerce Minister Mary Ng has made regular visits to Washington to try to deliver the same kind of reassuring message to U.S. trade officials and lawmakers.


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