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.
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?
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.