Canadian consumers are launching a "boycott" of American goods, The Wall Street Journal reports, in retaliation for Trump Administration tariffs and President Donald Trump's penchant for poking fun at their beloved Prime Minister.
But there's one big problem: many of the consumer products Canadians believe are made in Canada are actually made in the United States, or by American corporations.
The "boycott" officially began in July, in response to the Trump Administration's new 20% tariff on Canadian steel (and a host of other, less significant tariffs on things like Canadian aluminum), and after President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "weak" at a meeting of the "group of 7." Angry at being disrespected, Canadians pledged to purge their shopping carts of anything made below their southern border.
“Usually we don’t pay that much attention to it,” one Canadian consumer told the WJS. “You tend to buy the products that taste good or you buy the products that are low in price where taste isn’t an issue.” But, he added, this summer it got personal.
Most products assumed to be Canadian, though, are actually American. Old Dutch chips, for example, are mostly consumed in Canada, but are made in Minnesota. And, it turns out, Americans make a lot of products that people use every day. Canadians might be able to do without Heinz ketchup, but they probably won't give up drinking Starbucks or Coca-Cola, using Apple and Microsoft technology, eating at McDonalds or wearing American-made clothing. If they do, they'll hurt local Canadian franchise owners before they harm American business interests.
And where brands are "uniquely Canadian," chances are they're subsidiaries of global conglomerates headquartered in the United States. Unilever, Kraft, and Proctor & Gamble make most toiletries, packaged food products, and household goods sold in the U.S. and Canada.
Nearly 20% of American exports go to Canada. And they like it that way.
There's also another facet: some products that Canadians assume are American, like Haagen Dazs, are actually Canadian.
The "close, personal" relationship is probably one reason that Donald Trump believes levying tariffs on Canadian goods will help equalize trade: if you can't go without American products, you're more likely to find your way to the bargaining table to keep those goods flowing.
Ed note: An earlier version of this story included Pizza! Pizza! as an example of an American-owned Canadian chain. It is, in fact, Canadian! However, Little Caesars, which also has branches in Canada, and uses the slogan, "Pizza! Pizza!" is not.