TORONTO -- Ontario has hired lobbyists in Texas and is threatening protectionist measures of its own as it tries to convince state officials not to pass a Buy American bill.
Premier Kathleen Wynne claimed victory last month after a successful Ontario push to stop similar provisions in New York state.
Wynne says in a statement that she is concerned a bill to extend Buy American provisions to virtually all state agencies in Texas is going to a final review and could get approval as soon as this weekend.
The bill would force suppliers to buy iron and steel only from American sources.
Wynne says if that happens, Ontario may introduce legislation to allow the province to restrict its own procurement policies and processes for Texas firms.
Trade between Ontario and Texas amounted to more than US$12 billion last year, including in the tech, automotive and construction sectors.
Monique Smith, Ontario's representative in Washington, D.C., has been working with Texas officials to push the province's case. As well, Ontario has hired lobbyists in Texas for their expertise in the state legislative process.
"As premier, I will continue to push for open, fair and competitive access to government contracts and free trade overall," Wynne said in Thursday's statement. "However, we are also prepared to respond strongly to this action."
Ontario had feared New York's Buy American policy could have had a domino effect with other states if it was approved.
"I hope we don't have to do this too many times," Wynne said at the time. "I hope the message is clear."
Wynne has been increasingly vocal about concerns over signs of increasing protectionism in the U.S., in Buy American policies and a pending renegotiation of NAFTA. She has met and spoken with various U.S. governors as part of a strategy to win over high-profile allies to Ontario's views on trade.