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One year after the trade wars began, Canada’s economy has been altered

One year after the trade wars began, Canada’s economy has been altered

Part of an ongoing series that looks at changes one year after the global trade wars ignited.

For the next few months or so, some of us here at the Financial Post will be filing dispatches from the trade wars, which arrived in Canada on the last day of May 2018, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returned U.S. President Donald Trump’s fire with a volley of retaliatory tariffs on imports worth about $17 billion.

Combined, these stories describe a loss of innocence.

Central bankers, executives, politicians, trade negotiators, and the rest of us have had to come to terms with a world that is very different from the one we had come to take for granted.

To get started, let’s go back to Whitby, Ont., circa 1970. The town’s population had grown to about 25,000, a 70-per-cent increase from a decade earlier. The Canadian automotive industry, based in nearby Oshawa is on its way, thanks in large part to a managed trade agreement with the United States that Prime Minister Lester Pearson signed in 1965. The Auto Pact guaranteed that a percentage of the cars and trucks sold in Canada would also be built in Canada. These were good times.