Alberta Politics
“They came knocking on our doors last night. Let’s make a deal. Please!” … (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Donald Trump’s claims about the Canadian trade bargaining team have, for once, a ring of truth!

Posted on September 01, 2018, 1:23 am
3 mins

Yes, Donald Trump is a liar and a braggart, but the American President’s boast yesterday morning that cowed Canadian trade negotiators have all but folded and any new trade deal they sign will be totally on U.S. terms has a ring of truth.

Given his track record, it’s certainly not impossible to conclude Mr. Trump was just engaging in his usual pathological hyperbole about how smart he is and how superior his tactics are to those of everyone else.

U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).

Still, how hard is it to believe he spoke the unvarnished truth when he bragged to Bloomberg News that every time Canada’s trade negotiators resist U.S. demands, the Americans threaten the Canadian auto industry, and it works?

Or, as Mr. Trump put it, as if he were personally always in the room and the centre of the action, “every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala.”

“They came knocking on our doors last night,” Mr. Trump said of the Canadian bargaining team in his now-infamous off-the-record interview with Bloomberg News, which was mysteriously leaked to the Toronto Star. “‘Let’s make a deal. Please.’”

So, seriously, how hard is it to believe that the Trudeau Government bargaining team – deeply committed to maintaining neoliberal trade globalization – would be prepared to give away the store for the privilege of remaining in a rebranded North American Free Trade Agreement?

Not very.

After all, we Canadians have completely reorganized our economy to support the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement cooked up in the days of Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney, and the NAFTA that followed when Mexico signed on. So of course that Canadian bargaining team is sweating bullets.

But Mr. Trump’s scenario becomes especially believable when your realize a big part of the store Canada is being asked to give away – supply management of eggs, poultry and especially dairy products – is one our own leaders mostly oppose on ideological grounds and would dearly love the opportunity to skid.

The trouble from the perspective of the Canadian neoliberals who drive our country’s trade policies no matter which party happens to be in power is that a powerful industry and certain Canadian governments – the one in Quebec in particular – don’t see things quite the same way.

So nothing would suit them better than to be able to do what they want, and then blame it all on Donald Trump and the Americans.

So, for once, I don’t have any trouble believing what President Trump has to say.

But I’d sure like to know how that leak to the Star worked. Mr. Trump didn’t seem all that unhappy about it yesterday, so perhaps that suggests a narrative.

5 Comments to: Donald Trump’s claims about the Canadian trade bargaining team have, for once, a ring of truth!

  1. J.E. Molnar

    September 1st, 2018

    Right-wing pundits and neoliberals loudly and constantly proclaim the magical effects of free trade, and yet, in the next breath they will solemnly agree that jobs are being lost to low-wage regions where workers have no rights – and they will absolutely refuse to connect those two thoughts. It’s time Canadian governments re-evaluated these job crippling free trade agreements and start supporting our domestic market, which delivers 70% of our GDP.

    Since Canada signed on to NAFTA, thousands of good manufacturing jobs have been lost. Those jobs went to the U.S. where unions are made weak by legislation (right-to-work-laws where currently 25 US States have adopted this union-busting technique) — and to Mexico where unions are made weak by free trade zones, where union rights are virtually nonexistent.

    In terms of autos and Trump’s recent tariff threat — Canada used to have a healthier automotive sector, but the Auto Pact, which protected Canadian jobs, was ruled invalid by the World Trade Organization (WTO) — another free trade deal (see link below). Ever since that ruling, Canada has been getting the short end of the stick when it comes to NAFTA and other negotiated free trade deals. During the unpleasant reign of Stephen Harper, Canada recorded 50 consecutive months of international trade deficits — I’m not holding out much hope for a Trudeau-led improvement folks.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/wto-upholds-auto-pact-ruling-1.245894

    Reply
  2. J.E. Molnar

    September 1st, 2018

    Right-wing pundits and neoliberals loudly and constantly proclaim the magical effects of free trade, and yet, in the next breath they will solemnly agree that jobs are being lost to low-wage regions where workers have no rights – and they will absolutely refuse to connect those two thoughts. It’s time Canadian governments re-evaluated these job crippling free trade agreements and start supporting our domestic market, which delivers 70% of our GDP.

    Since Canada signed on to NAFTA, thousands of good manufacturing jobs have been lost. Those jobs went to the U.S. where unions are made weak by legislation (right-to-work-laws where currently 25 US States have adopted this union-busting technique) — and to Mexico where unions are made weak by free trade zones, where union rights are virtually nonexistent.

    In terms of autos and Trump’s recent tariff threat — Canada used to have a healthier automotive sector, but the Auto Pact, which protected Canadian jobs, was ruled invalid by the World Trade Organization (WTO) — another free trade deal (see link below). Ever since that ruling, Canada has been getting the short end of the stick when it comes to NAFTA and other free trade deals. During the unpleasant reign of Stephen Harper, Canada recorded 50 consecutive months of international trade deficits — I’m not holding out much hope for a Trudeau-led improvement folks.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/wto-upholds-auto-pact-ruling-1.245894

    Reply
  3. Paul Willcocks

    September 1st, 2018

    It’s also worth discussing Bloomberg’s ethics in claiming to have published a transcript of the interview with Trump without revealing that it was not full or accurate because they had agreed to allow Trump to go off the record whenever he chose.

    Reply
  4. Jay

    September 1st, 2018

    Calm down.

    Both Mexico and Canada freely admit, they were in full contact during the Bilateral negotiations.

    The Friday deadline wasn’t Shitgibbon’s. A new Mexican Administration get’s sworn into office December 1st. If the NAFTA agreement isn’t written, signed and ratified by then, then the incoming Mexican Administration will tear up the 3 page, unsigned Memo of Understanding that Shitgibbon waves around as the Mecico/US Trade Deal.

    So, up until Friday, Mexico gave Canada a hell of a lever.

    When the deadline went whooshing past, a whole new ballgame started, because now the incoming Administration guides the shape of many of the issues.

    “Off the record, Canada’s working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,” Trump said, according to the source. The Impala is produced at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ontario.”

    Dementia Donnie pretends to his Shitlerite minions that he’s actually “involved” in the negotiations.

    The reality is The Insane Clown POSus knows nothing and nothing can be explained to him. The US strategy is to ignore Dementia Donnie, let the Technocrats negotiate, then hopefully present an agreement to the Toddler in Chief, telling him “it’s the greatest deal ever”. Then hope he signs it before his next tantrum hits.

    Reply
  5. David

    September 2nd, 2018

    Mr. Trump, as it has been observed by others more than once is often his own worst enemy. Bragging you are going to make a deal “on your terms” is not a good negotiating strategy, especially if it becomes public. It tends to be self defeating. Even if the Canadian government was willing to capitulate, which I doubt – the Conservatives have made the mistake of underestimating Trudeau before and while they have had some success spinning that narrative to the press recently, I think they may be deluding themselves once again – after Mr. Trump’s bragging, the Canadian government certainly would not be so willing.

    Mr. Trump does not take much interest in things foreign (or even some things in the US) and I think he has made two mistakes here. First, he does not realize the political power of the Canadian dairy industry. Mr. Scheer, the Conservative leader does – Mr. Bernier the Conservative loser did not. It is possible the next election will be closely fought as Trudeau mania fades and I think Trudeau as well as his political opponents both realize the outcome could rest on a few seats with dairy farmers. Mr. Trudeau may be willing to give away something to appease Trump, but not so much as to motivate all the dairy farmers to vote against him. Also, now with Mr. Bernier gone, the Conservatives can also go back to their long standing courting of dairy farmers, although it conflicts with their ideology they are not politically totally stupid.

    Mr. Trump’s second mistake is he underestimates or does not understand the US auto industry. Their profitability rests on producing some part of a vehicle in the US, some parts in Canada and some parts elsewhere. Their production is extremely integrated and Trump’s threatened tariffs will destroy their profitability. Congress has allowed Trump to play around with tariffs until now, the steel and aluminum ones have been mostly a nuisance in the US, not that damaging to the overall US economy, but they will not support auto tariffs against Canada which would be much more economically damaging. If you think dairy farmers in the US and Canada have great political power – the US auto industry has far more.

    It is possible that if Mr. Trump continues to be intransigent, the US congress will end up reigning him in . He has authority to renegotiate NAFTA, but he does not have authority to do whatever comes into his mind. A President is not a Prime Minister and in the US, powers are more evenly distributed between the executive and legislative branches. I suspect Mr. Trudeau has figured this out and while willing to make minor concessions to appease Trump, will leave it to the US Congress to deal with Trump if he continues to be intractable.

    Reply

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