As Ottawa hits back at the United States with countertariffs, many Canadians say they are prepared to exact their own personal retribution against Donald Trump’s trade war − by curtailing travel to the U.S. or boycotting American retailers or brands.
According to a new poll conducted for The Globe and Mail by Nanos Research, nearly three in four Canadians say they are likely, or somewhat likely, to stop travelling to the United States because of the cross-border conflict started by the U.S. President.
More than seven in 10 Canadians also say they are likely, or somewhat likely, to boycott U.S.-made goods, the poll found. Nearly the same percentage also say they are likely or somewhat likely to stop shopping at U.S. retailers in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has responded to calls to buy Canadian or to travel domestically by saying recently that, “I am always one to encourage Canadians to discover our extraordinary country, to take vacations here at home, to continue to buy Canadian.”
The first serious tit-for-tat trade war between Canada and the United States in roughly half a century was set in motion June 1 after Mr. Trump slapped import taxes on Canadian steel and aluminum bound for the U.S. The President justified the tariffs by saying they were necessary to ensure American “national security” because they would expand U.S. capacity to construct its own tanks and warships.
Mr. Trudeau responded by saying it’s insulting to call Canada, one of the closest U.S. allies, a national-security threat. Canada fired back on July 1, imposing retaliatory import taxes on $16.6-billion of U.S. imports, including steel and aluminum, as well as a slew of retail products − many of these chosen to put pressure on lawmakers in the U.S. Congress.
Pollster Nik Nanos said Canadians have prepared themselves to strike back with their wallets. He said people are worried about what Mr. Trump meant when he said in June that trade conflict with his country is “going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada.”
“They’re concerned about the ramifications of Donald Trump saying Canada will pay, but at the same time looking at retaliating with their pocketbooks” Mr. Nanos said.
Fifty-seven per cent of respondents told the pollster they are likely to stop or cut back travel to the United States in response to the trade war. Sixteen per cent said they are somewhat likely to curtail travel. Another 25 per cent said they are unlikely or somewhat unlikely to do so while 2 per cent were unsure.
High-profile TVO broadcaster Steve Paikin, for example, has said that he will not continue a family tradition this summer of going on a baseball road trip to cities in the United States.
As for boycotting U.S. goods, 43 per cent of those surveyed said they are likely to stop buying American products while another 29 per cent said they are somewhat likely to cease these purchases. Twenty-six per cent said they are unlikely or somewhat unlikely to stop buying American and 2 per cent were unsure.
As for shopping at U.S. retailers, 43 per cent of respondents said they are likely to stop patronizing these stores and another 25 per cent said they are somewhat likely. Close to three in 10 said they were unlikely or somewhat unlikely to curb their purchases at U.S. outlets.
The Nanos survey of 1,000 adult Canadians was conducted June 26 to 28 by telephone and online. The margin of error for a random survey of 1,000 people is 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. It was commissioned by The Globe and CTV News.
Mr. Nanos said forgoing a vacation in the United States is a relatively painless effort for Canadians to take because there are many other options for trips. “It's not like they're giving up their iPhones. Avoiding the United States is probably one of the easiest steps they can take,” he said.
The Nanos poll shows Quebeckers are significantly more likely to support a boycott than Canadians in other provinces, whether that means curbing U.S. travel, shunning American goods or avoiding U.S. retailers.
This new trade war between neighbours shows no signs of abating. Mr. Trump has taken fresh shots at Canada in recent weeks, fuelling fears that his administration will soon levy import taxes of 25 per cent on Canadian-made cars and car parts − a measure that businesses warn will severely hurt this country’s economy.