Requirements that materials used in the replacement of the Alaska Ferry dock in Prince Rupert be produced in the U.S. are raising red flags throughout the country’s manufacturing industry.
Because the $10 million to $15 million project is being funded by taxpayer dollars through the U.S. Federal Department of Transportation it falls under the Buy American policy, which means all iron and steel products must be manufactured in the United States. But because the terminal is located on land owned by the Prince Rupert Port Authority, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) say the policy is unfairly hurting Canadian companies.
“An issue as contentious as Buy American protectionism appearing on federal land in B.C. demands our attention. All municipalities across B.C., and especially the city council of Prince Rupert, should adopt a reciprocity policy for all their infrastructure procurement contracts,” said CME vice-president Marcus Ewert-Johns.
“Someone has to step up for Canada here. This type of protectionist policy has no place in a trade relationship as strong as that between Canada and America,” added CME president and CEO Jayson Myers.
The situation has caught the attention of International Trade Minister Ed Fast, who said his ministry is “aware of and deeply concerned by” the Buy American policy being used on port authority land.
“This situation, occurring shortly following the Morrison, Colorado, bridge debacle, is yet another example of how illogical and counterproductive it is to try to segregate our economies. The extraterritorial application of these protectionist restrictions on trade within Canada by a foreign government is unreasonable,” he said.
“Taxpayers on both sides of the border would benefit from dismantling the trade barriers and inefficiencies created by U.S. protectionist policies such as Buy America … we are exploring all options to address this situation.”
Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is asking the government to make sure the Buy American policy applies to this project.
“You can understand their [Prince Rupert residents] surprise and total frustration that a ferry terminal operating on their port, on Canadian federal Crown land, will be subject to Buy American policies,” Cullen said.
“No Canadian steel or iron will be used … this is a direct result of Conservatives’ failure to stand up for Canada.”