BUY Canadian: Will the U.S. Notice?

Ξ September 16th, 2009 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Canada, United States |

(WSJ Illustration)

(WSJ Illustration)

Very of-the-times/ same as it ever was article from the Wall Street Journal (below is a snippet) about the ongoing US-Canada trade feud. When I listened to Obama essentially not listen to Harper’s worries at the 3-way meet-up (U.S. Mexico, Canada) this past summer, I knew that the U.S.’s $787 billion economic-stimulus package was going to be yet another boil growing everyone’s backside. It must suck sometimes to be Canada when attempting to deal with the Americans, especially when you are trying to converse about trade between the two countries. The truth is all you are to them is sort of a really big state. They don’t confer “country” status on you. I’d advise Canada to be as radical as you can afford to be. “Buy Canadian” at least sounds like you are rather annoyed with your friends to the South.

WASHINGTON — On paper, Tom Pokorsky would seem to be a clear beneficiary of the government’s $787 billion economic-stimulus package.

Mr. Pokorsky runs Aquarius Technologies Inc., a company in Port Washington, Wis., that makes equipment to treat sewage. The stimulus plan earmarks some $6 billion for municipal wastewater projects that are right in his company’s sweet spot.

[Don Skidmore photo] Reuters

Don Skidmore shows his ‘Buy American Buy Union’ tattoo in Michigan in June.

“If that sticks, well, there goes 25% of my business,” said Mr. Pokorsky. “To me, Ontario may as well be Indiana.”

But the bill’s Buy American provisions — meant to give U.S. companies a leg up on foreign competition — are causing Aquarius and other U.S. companies a lot of grief with both suppliers and clients in Canada.

Now that grief has boiled over into a major diplomatic row with the largest U.S. trading partner. Canadian communities angered by perceived American chauvinism have started a Buy Canadian campaign to exclude U.S. bidders from municipal contracts.

Buy American rules are gumming up the plans of Frederick County, Md., to get $6 million of stimulus money for a $100 million wastewater-treatment plant. Long after the project bids and contracts had been signed, the county found itself on the wrong side of the Buy American provisions because their system uses certain membranes made by a GE subsidiary in Canada.

Kevin Demosky, a county utility official, is applying to the EPA for a waiver to use the GE parts. “The [Buy American] rules affect a small part of the project but are like a virus infecting the whole thing,” he said. “It’s like they want us to go back in time.”

(I chose this as an example of how this affects someone I know personally–my folks. This is their county.)

The Buy American rules sounded good in theory but  did anyone look into just how closely Canada and the U.S. are intertwined? If Congress had anything to do with it I’m reasonably sure the answer is either “no” or “just barely.”

(I have such a strong sense of deja vu here of how this mirrors a personal situation but alas I cannot speak of  anything that is not sunshine and puppy dogs in re: my own relationship with “Canada.”)

 

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