“I just have to say how disappointed I am with President Trump right now,” Ford said at his Friday news conference. “In times like this, who tries to go after your closest ally, your closest trading partner, your number one customer in the entire world? Who would do this? Well, President Trump did this.”
Canada and the United States are supposed to be close allies and “part of the big family,” but it’s unacceptable that Trump “comes and backstabs us like this,” Ford said.
Later Friday morning, Freeland announced Canada would respond with $3.6 billion in tariffs. “We’ll always defend our aluminum industry and Canadian workers,” she said.
Freeland added that she thanks provincial, territorial and labour leaders for their “strong defence of the Canadian national interest.”
“We’re up against a real battle right now, it’s us versus them,” Ford said. “And I’ve always said, I love the American people. But right now, for the president to come and attack us during these times, through a pandemic when we need everyone’s support, is totally unacceptable.”
He also said when he spoke to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, he warned Ontario and Canada would be “coming out swinging like you’ve never seen before.”
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As he has often done in recent weeks, Ford encouraged Ontarians to buy made in Ontario or Canada products.
“Folks, as individuals, we can’t put tariffs on. But what we can do, we can hit them where it hurts,” he said.
Ford said Ontario is the top trading partner of 19 states, and the number two trading partner to nine others. He also cited a 2018 statistic that the U.S. had a $9 billion trade surplus with Canada.
“It’s just frustrating,” he said of the tariffs, given the trade surplus. “But don’t worry. We’ll get out there. The public [is] the strongest when it comes to retaliatory measures, we can put tariffs and I encourage that we put retaliatory tariffs on every single item we can, dollar-for-dollar.”
Back in July, Ford warned Trump not to put tariffs on Canadian aluminum and said, as he repeated Friday, that the province would fight back against any potential tariffs.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost Canada and has been updated.