Speaking at an international aluminium summit in Montreal, Canada, on Monday June 4, Dominique Anglade said: “If there’s a risk of a reduction in production and not being able to export as much, we will be here to support the companies to make sure they maintain the jobs in the sector.”
She noted that Québec’s aluminium sector employs 30,000 people – 7,000 directly in smelting and 21,000 in transforming aluminium. “We will work alongside companies,” she said, noting that the province had nine smelters and 1,500 transformers. The province dominates Canadian aluminium production, with only one major smelter outside Québec which is in British Columbia.
“What happened last week is a direct attack on our economy,” Anglade, who is also Québec’s minister of economy, science and innovation, said. “It was totally unreasonable.”
She argued that the tariffs would not address the key issue of global overcapacity in aluminium production, which required a multilateral solution. In contrast, the US tariffs would “have a negative impact on our side and the American side of the border.” She said Québec is a safe supplier for the US market, including its defense sector, arguing that the United States’ justification for the tariffs - that the US needs its own larger aluminium sector to create secure supplies for its military - was wrongheaded.
The US row comes at a challenging time for the Québec sector given that its pro-business Liberal provincial government’s 2015 aluminium plan is targeting major expansion aluminium production, doubling processing by 2025. The Québec government, which will have a general election in September, has as a result launched 200 different initiatives to boost the province’s aluminium sectors, Anglade said.
The deputy premier of Québec has committed her government to helping the Canadian province’s aluminium sector maintain its current level of employment in the face of US tariffs that have hit the industry since last Thursday.