Are you ready for a fight?
On July 1, Canada will impose tariffs on roughly $16.6 billion worth of American goods, our proportionate response to tariffs imposed last month on Canadian steel and aluminum.
Those new charges — should they take effect — will drive up the retail price of U.S.-made goods from soy sauce and ketchup to hair lacquers and aftershave by roughly two to three per cent.
“A tariff on the wholesale price doesn’t amount to much at retail, but if this thing escalates, it could affect consumers,” said Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food policy at Dalhousie University.
That said, many Canadians will be motivated to make a statement, especially on Canada Day.
A dent in Canadian sales isn’t likely to hurt American manufacturers, but they might take notice of a highly public boycott of their products, Charlebois said.
“If you really want to make a difference, put it out on social media that your shopping basket is ‘Trump-free,’” he said.
Stay away from processed foods, which tend to be made from ingredients from all over the place. The produce aisle has much more reliable country-of-origin labeling.
Charlebois expects the “Buy Canadian” fervour to start strong and then wane in a few weeks, based on past experience.
“Cupboard economics will dictate that eventually budget-stretched consumers will go back to buying the cheapest and easiest products,” he said.
Canada, the EU and Mexico have all focused their punitive tariffs on products from states represented by key American politicians and states that support President Donald Trump. We can only hope they notice.
Let us now turn our minds to unleashing the full fury of our Canadian wrath on our American friends … by buying different stuff.
If Vancouverites have an opportunity to really hurt U.S. industry, soy sauce will be our most potent weapon. Kikkoman USA runs the world’s largest soy sauce plant in Walworth, Wisconsin.
Best Bet: While Kikkoman soy sauce will be going up in price, Burnaby-based Golden Dragon offers a line of excellent soy sauces for all your dumpling dunking and sushi-related needs.
Ketchup, mustard and mayo
When Heinz pulled its ketchup operations out of Canada, French’s stepped into their place in Leamington, Ont., and began to eat their competitor’s Canadian market share.
Best Bet: French’s is an American company, but the ketchup they sell here is domestic. When Canada Day rolls around, use grainy mustard from Canada or even France, our allies in this condiment battle. As for mayonnaise, Hellman’s is made from supply-managed Canadian eggs, which is sure to irritate the prez.
Dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerator-freezers
Whirlpool and KitchenAid have manufacturing operations across the rust-belt states and the South, while the Canadian appliance sector has virtually disappeared. Even Germany’s Bosch has manufacturing operations in the U.S.
Best Bet: Call a repairman.
Nearly all of our orange juice comes from Florida, which turned out to be a super-important swing state in presidential voting. Our eating oranges are mostly from California and are not subject to tariff. Yet.
Best Bet: Can the juice. Eat a nice B.C. apple instead.
Cars and trucks
Although there are no tariffs planned for automobiles manufactured in the United States — yet — the tariffs on steel and aluminum being imposed by both governments will inevitably lead to higher prices for cars and trucks. There are parts and assembly plants owned the the big American automakers on both sides of the border and they have ordinarily flowed freely both ways.
Best Bet: Japanese automakers Toyota and Honda both manufacture popular models in Canada, as do bicycle makers such as Norco, Devinci, Rocky Mountain and lots of little guys.
Toilet paper from the United States will be subject to the Canadian tariff, but Kruger makes Purex, White Swan and Cashmere at its plant in New Westminster and a handful of others in Quebec.
Best Bet: Buy Canadian toilet paper, if you can. If not, don’t go looking for alternatives. This is the not the hill you want to die on.
Just stop doing it, said James Brander, a professor specializing in international trade at the Sauder School of Business. That means no more cheap gas and cheese from Blaine and no more ordering stuff online from American retailers or Amazon. The last good estimate from StatsCan suggests we spend $8 billion a year cross-border shopping.
Best Bet: Buy your gas and cheese at home, traitor.
Powerful opiates such as oxycodone and others are a very big business for Big Pharma in the U.S., says Brander. They can also lead to addiction, so there are many reasons to cut back or stop, if you can.
Best Bet: B.C. Bud, baby. Brander reckons that local growers and medicinal pot retailers will benefit if you replace some or all of your pain meds with medical cannabis or derivatives designed for pain relief. Consult your doctor, obviously.