President Donald Trump attacked Canada Friday morning, seemingly offering a defense of the controversial tariffs he imposed this week and accusing America’s northern neighbor of treating U.S. agricultural industries “very poorly.”
“Canada has treated our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long period of time. Highly restrictive on Trade!” the president wrote on Twitter. “They must open their markets and take down their trade barriers! They report a really high surplus on trade with us. Do Timber & Lumber in U.S.?”
Trump has made resetting U.S. trade relationships around the globe a key priority for his administration, most notably with China, but also with top U.S. allies and trade partners like Mexico and Canada. He has complained previously about Canada’s treatment of the U.S. lumber and dairy industries among others.
His attack against Canada came just hours after import taxes on steel and aluminum from three key U.S. trade partners — Mexico, Canada and the European Union — went into effect at midnight Friday, after the administration said on Thursday that exemptions would not be extended.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a blistering rebuke to Trump during a news conference on Thursday.
"Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable," Trudeau said. "Canadians have served alongside Americans in two world wars and in Korea. From the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan, we have fought and died together."
The tariffs have proven to be a controversial step that have also drawn the ire of prominent Republicans who have long supported free-trade policies.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement that "I disagree with this decision” and that "instead of addressing the real problems in the international trade of these products, today's action targets America's allies when we should be working with them.” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a regular and outspoken critic of the president’s, said the tariffs were similar to the policies that he said sparked the Great Depression.
“This is dumb. Europe, Canada, and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents,” Sasse said. “‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again.'"