MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Well, as Jim mentioned there, Canada has just imposed tariffs on nearly $13 billion of U.S. goods. This is retaliation for the Trump administration's tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel, tariffs which Washington says are all about national security. Many Canadians are angry. They are boycotting products from the U.S. The movement has come to be known by its hashtag, #BuyCanadian. NPR's Jackie Northam has this report from Ottawa.
SCOTT CHAMBERLAIN: So I was planning on buying ingredients to make chili. I haven't attempted to make chili since I started trying to buy Canadian first. And...
JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: Scott Chamberlain, an Ottawa lawyer and father of four, wheels a shopping cart through the crowded aisles of a massive grocery store in Ottawa.
CHAMBERLAIN: So on this one, it caught my eye - product of Canada, pretty clear.
NORTHAM: Chamberlain says if he can't find a Canadian product, he'll look for ingredients from other countries outside the U.S.
CHAMBERLAIN: Product of USA, product of USA. So there's no onions immediately here that are Canadian, but I'll look for an alternative ingredient for my chili.
NORTHAM: Chamberlain is part of a fast-growing social media movement to buy only Canadian goods. There's #BuyCanadian, #BoycottUSA and #Trump-free. Chamberlain says he began scouring labels shortly after the G-7 when President Trump called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meek, mild, dishonest and weak, and he lashed out at the Canadian leader for holding a press conference critical of the U.S. after Trump left the summit early.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: That's going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada. He'll learn you can't do that. You can't do that.
NORTHAM: Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro in comments soon after the press conference said Trudeau earned a special place in hell. He later apologized. But Canadians were outraged. Even Trudeau's political enemies vowed solidarity with him. Chamberlain says he was proud of the way Canada supported Trudeau after the G-7 summit. And as a personal protest, he decided to boycott American goods.
CHAMBERLAIN: Maybe it was a spontaneous act of patriotism because of comments that were made directly of the government but also Canadian people.
NORTHAM: Many Canadians are wondering how a once-strong relationship with the U.S. has deteriorated so quickly. Things began to go downhill in late May when the U.S. slapped steep tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. The Trump administration cited Canada as a national security concern.
ROLAND PARIS: Canadians are livid. The anger is across the country.
NORTHAM: Roland Paris is a professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa and a former foreign policy adviser to Trudeau. He says President Trump may be using tariffs and undignified language as leverage for trade talks, but Canadians are shocked at being treated as an adversary.
PARIS: If President Trump's goal is to try to soften up his negotiating partner by issuing threats, it's having the opposite effect because people are more resolved to stand up against this kind of bullying.
NORTHAM: Gary Howe, the president of a local steelworkers union, says his members aren't panicking yet about a possible trade war with the U.S. He says the bigger concern right now for many is what's happening on the U.S.-Mexico border.
GARY HOWE: You know, the kids that are separated from their parents - it really makes Trump look to be like quite a monster. So I think that most Canadians would kind of view him as quite a evil person because that's the way that the media has been kind of presenting it.
NORTHAM: The University of Ottawa's Professor Paris says many Canadians have relatives and friends in the U.S. and understand it's a big and complex country.
PARIS: Nevertheless, the chaos, the meanness, the brutality of American politics right now is something that is profoundly shocking to Canadians. And I think many people feel that they do not recognize the U.S. anymore.
NORTHAM: And are wondering what will happen next between the neighbors. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Ottawa.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.