Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland says protectionism has never been higher in her lifetime, but the kind of cross border dealings that can be seen in companies like Michelin are a testament to the positives of free trade still happening.
“This is probably the most protectionist period in my lifetime,” said Freeland. “The fact that we are able to, as Canadians, maintain secure access to these markets at a time when lots of other counties are losing theirs has got to be good for Canadians.”
Freeland visited the Michelin tire plant in Pictou County, along with Central Nova MP, Sean Fraser Wednesday, Nov. 21st as part of Freeland’s Atlantic-wide tour championing the Canada U.S. Mexico Agreement CUMA, or the new NAFTA, trade negations with the United States.
“The vast majority of exports from this plant go to the U.S., and the new NAFTA means that those exports can continue unhindered,” said Freeland speaking to reporters at the rubber mixing plant.
The plant in Pictou County is part of a tire assembly line connected to Michelin’s other Nova Scotia locations in Bridgewater and Waterville. About 75 per cent of all Michelin products manufactured in the province are exported within North America, and 30 per cent of the tire manufacturer’s winter-tires are exported to U.S. and markets overseas.
“The highly integrated car sector between Canada and U.S. is a key part of the economic relationship between Canada and the United States,” said Freeland. “It’s a key part of why this factory exists.”
Back in October Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. announced a $20 million investment into the Pictou County site, and the creation of 150 new jobs in addition to securing 200 existing temporary jobs.
“I know that this is an important employer, and to see the expansions means that there’s going to be that many more people from home that get to stay here,” said MP Sean Fraser. “It’s wonderful news.”
Freeland also took this opportunity to add that, through trade agreements with the European Union, and with Asia through the CPTPP, Canada is currently the only G7 country with trade agreements with all seven of the other countries with the group.
When asked about the ongoing situation between Pictou County’s Northern Pulp and people opposed to the effluent pipe and the protests on the harbour, both Fraser and Freeland voiced support for freedom of expression so long as it remains peaceful.
“The vast majority of people on all sides of this dispute that I’ve spoken to are level headed individuals who care about their community and who have a disagreement about thing,” said Fraser. “I’m confident that cooler heads will prevail and that things will be resolved through peaceful discussions and not through violent conflict.”
Fraser and Freeland were scheduled to appear later that same day at the East Pictou Middle School where the Central Nova MP was set to announce his bid for re-election in 2019.