The leader of Canada’s most populous province called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to impose tariffs on Chinese imports, including at least a 100 per cent levy on electric vehicles, to mirror the Biden administration’s policy.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford accused China of taking advantage of low labor standards and dirty energy and flooding the market with cheap EVs. “Unless we act fast, we risk Ontario and Canadian jobs,” Ford said in a statement on the social media platform X.

Ontario represents about 40 per cent of Canada’s economy and is the heartland of its automotive and manufacturing industries. General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and other major automakers all have assembly plants in the southern part of the province, making cars and light trucks primarily for export to the U.S. 

Last month, the White House announced sweeping tariff hikes on Chinese goods, including quadrupling tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles to bring the rate to 102.5 per cent. Canada imposes only a small tariff of about 6 per cent on Chinese-made vehicles, but they’re still a relatively small part of the market. 

Trudeau and other Canadian officials have said they’re monitoring the U.S.-China trade battle, but have not committed to following Biden’s lead. The European Union last week announced additional tariffs on electric cars shipped from China — making Canada appear more isolated on the issue. 

Trudeau told reporters on Thursday his government is watching its allies’ actions closely and he had “significant” conversations about this topic at the Group of Seven summit last week.

“We will look very carefully at what steps need to be taken to ensure that the Canadian auto industry and indeed Canadian consumers are well supported for years to come,” he said. 

In his social-media post, the Ontario premier said over the past four years, his province has secured $43 billion (US$31.4 billion) worth of investments in electric vehicle and battery manufacturing. Some of those investments have been lured by promises of billions in public money to match incentives in the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act. 

“We can never take our progress for granted,” Ford said. “Now’s the time to work with our U.S. partners to deepen and strengthen homegrown, U.S.-Canada supply chains.”