Bridgewater residents watching how Canada-U.S. trade talks will affect Michelin
This bustling Bridgewater Cafe may be a long way from the NAFTA talks in Washington, D.C., but people here know that if anything happens to hurt the area's biggest private employer, everyone would be affected.
“The people that are in town are here because of Michelin and I think it would make a difference to us if it wasn't here, and it would make a difference in the community,” said café owner Michelle Engel.
Area resident Richard Donat says “if the whole thing is cancelled, I don't know what's gonna happen.”
The Michelin plant is on the outskirts of town and with 1,300 employees, the company has been the economic backbone in this region for more than 40 years.
With the future of NAFTA still up in the air - and Canada's minister of foreign affairs back in Washington today after talks between Canada and U.S. failed last Friday, it's hard to tell what could happen.
But there is optimism here.
“With the updates on the progress of the talks, we're optimistic that once things land where they need to land, we'll be able to deal with them accordingly,” said Blair Lipsett of the Bridgewater Chamber of Commerce.
In Bridgewater, there is an outdoor classroom and park named after Michelin. If you don't work there, you know someone who does, or did. Michelin is a major business, bringing in tens of millions of dollars to the community and the surrounding area.
Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchellsays no one is nervous -- yet.
“If there's no NAFTA, does it become a protectionist agreement, do tariffs start coming in? That's what I'm more concerned about,” Mitchell said.
With reports Wednesday that talks were positive, Mitchell believes there will be something.
And he has a message for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.
“My message to the prime minister would be just keep at it, don't give up, but don't sell us out,” Mitchell said.
That’s a sentiment heard more than once from people in Bridgewater on Wednesday, a small Canadian community that feels the effects of world trade very close to home.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek.