Relations with Mexico are already beleaguered over clashes on immigration, while taking on trade often means taking on exports from plants owned by American corporations.
The sheer volume of trade with Canada makes it an easy target for actions against individual companies or industries. And the economy’s relatively small size, along with its economic and military dependence on the United States, gives Canada little strength for punching back.
The Bombardier case is just one in a long series of trade-related actions. Canada is rehashing the North American Free Trade Agreement, throwing the future of its businesses and workers into flux. The United States has imposed duties on softwood lumber, one of Canada’s most iconic exports, while weighing measures that would clamp down on Canadian exports of steel, aluminum and solar panels.
“Canadians view this as poking Canada in the eye,” said Jerry Dias, the head of Unifor, the country’s large private sector union, which represents some Bombardier workers. “Canadians who view the U.S. as our natural ally are now wondering what’s going on.”
The trade case against Bombardier, which was brought by the American aerospace giant Boeing, is typically a dry and routine affair. It centers on government subsidies and accusations of unfairly low sales prices.
But now trade is politically charged.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada has asked the American president to intervene to persuade Boeing to drop the case against Bombardier. Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain joined the chorus of criticism against the United States, since the wings for the aircraft, the CSeries, are made in Northern Ireland. It also soured…