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#BuyCanadian: Pocketbook patriotism takes off amid U.S. trade tensions

Last Updated Jun 14, 2018 at 9:29 am PDT

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with U.S. President Donald Trump at the G7 leaders summit in La Malbaie, Que., on Friday, June 8, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Social media users are pledging to #BuyCanadian amid the trade dispute, but it may have unintended consequences: experts

Social media users are pledging to #BuyCanadian amid a simmering trade standoff with the U.S., but experts say pocketbook patriotism may have unintended consequences on both sides of the border.

Bonnie Hallman of Winnipeg says she cancelled a long-desired trip to Alaska shortly after President Donald Trump took aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for pushing back against American tariffs on steel and aluminum.

The 53-year-old says she’s now booked to visit P.E.I. next summer because she would rather spend her dollars towards supporting Canadian tourism.

Scott Chamberlain, a father of four in Ottawa, says he’s been trying to fill his grocery cart with mostly homegrown goods to bolster the Canadian producers who could be hardest hit by cross-border friction over trade.

Robert Wolfe, a professor emeritus at Queen’s University’s School of Policy Studies, says the #BuyCanadian movement could fan the flames of a trade war in which no side would prevail unscathed.

He says the mirror of ‘buy Canadian’ is ‘buy American,’ which could have a detrimental impact on Canadian companies trading in the U.S. market.

“If it starts to escalate the Canada-U.S. tensions so that Americans begin to think we’re actually just mad at them, as opposed to mad at their president, that could be difficult for Canada-U.S. relations, and ultimately, not good for the economy.”

Food economist Mike von Massow of the University of Guelph says a show of Canadian fiscal solidarity may buttress the country’s position in trade negotiations, but swearing off American-made products is easier said than done.

An online poll conducted by Abacus Data between June 1 to 6 — after Trump said he would impose tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel but before trade tensions erupted at last week’s G7 summit in Quebec — found that more than half of 2,200 Canadian surveyed reported that they intend to avoid buying U.S. wines and cross-border shopping.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.