Canada's steel industry is calling for some Canadian content to be mandated for the multibillion-dollar Champlain Bridge project.
The industry's main lobby group – Canadian Institute of Steel Construction – says it isn't right that the federal government has not set out any guidelines for the procurement process for the new span across the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and the south shore.
"There is no requirement for it to have any Canadian content," said CISC marketing and communications director Tareq Ali.
"They should have some Canadian content. That would support the Quebec and Canadian steel industries," he said, adding it would also create local jobs and the Canadian taxpayer.
The intervention comes as Ottawa invokes a seldom-used law after Alaska refused to void Buy America purchasing rules in the rebuilding of the Prince Rupert, B.C. ferry terminal.
The order signed on Monday under the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act bars companies from complying with the requirement that only U.S. steel be used on the project.
"Canada is a proud trading nation that believes in open and reciprocal trade. We are focused on building up our economy by tearing down trade barriers, not erecting new ones," Max Moncaster, spokesman for federal Trade Minister Ed Fast, said in an email message Monday.
"We call upon our American friends to join with us to end the harm such policies are doing within our shared North American economy."
Mr. Ali said Canada's steel makers are suffering under the Buy America rules and action, such as requiring Canadian content for the new $3-billion to $5-billion Champlain Bridge, is needed.
"If we're going to be shut out in some markets, then you have to find a way to protect our projects such as the Champlain Bridge," Mr. Ali said ahead of an event Tuesday in Montreal and Quebec City.
Quebec's steel industry will unveil an action plan Tuesday to combat protectionist measures such as Buy America as well as the rise of foreign steel imports.
CISC is also calling for talks between Canada and the United States to discuss a "Buy North America" plan, Mr. Ali said.
"We want reciprocity. We want free trade," he said. "We don't want 'Buy Canada.' That would be protectionist."
Quebec's steel industry is one of the biggest in Canada, Mr. Ali said.
The province has experienced a significant drop in steel exports to the U.S., CISC says.
Ottawa should also see to it that the highest international standards are met in the procurement of material and services for the Champlain Bridge, he said.
CISC represents about 1,100 steel producers in Canada.