‘We’re not negotiating with Canada right now. Their tariffs are too high, their barriers are too strong, so we’re not even talking to them right now.’
— Donald Trump
Yep, that’s the latest from the Big O Down Below (and no, “O” doesn’t stand for orgasm). Apparently, U.S. President Donald Trump — The Big Orange One — is still trying to get what he has wanted all along — to abolish NAFTA.
His game plan is simple. He uses delay tactics and media-based bullying while refusing to participate in multilateral trade negotiations and agreements that have been in place with the U.S., Mexico and Canada since 1994.
Trump has whined about prices, tariffs and his desire to abolish the free trade deal by refusing to follow the political status quo. He has said all along he prefers one-on-one bilateral deals with other countries, like the agreement announced between the U.S. and Mexico yesterday. Amid news of the pact with Mexico is the suggestion that Canada could be left in the cold if it doesn’t quickly knuckle under to Trump.
It’s not difficult to figure out his strategy: It’s easy to bully one person who is without allies and then effortlessly lie or retract anything agreed to because no one else is a witness to the conversation. It’s a classic he said/she said scenario that The Big O Down Below knows how to play. After watching his nauseating performance during summits with other world leaders, we’re all used to it as well.
Knowing this, it seems that for Canada, no matter how dire things appear, in the end it’s just a lot of hand-wringing and Ativan-popping for nothing. Either we continue like we have for the last 20 years or we strike some new agreement. And either way, Canada will probably gain a little and lose a lot (again).
The real test is what our prime minister does. His action going forward will make or break his party’s future and ultimately determine whether he is re-elected in 2019. So far, our esteemed PM has been on a continuous nosedive since he and the Liberals enjoyed a sweeping victory in 2015. Justin Trudeau has created a shit storm of controversy over everything from electoral reform, to immigration to his disastrous trip to India. Never mind the ridiculous Trans Mountain pipeline purchase. I value the reader’s time too much to include a laundry list of Trudeau blunders.
He may be the next best thing to sliced bread for other countries and he may be The Rolling Stone’s perfect poster boy for their political prayers, but up here in the country that must live with the fallout from his governing decisions, it’s not exactly champagne and roses.
By now we’re all aware of The Big Orange One’s war on America’s allies. While he professes to be winning with tariffs, taxes and trade deals, a lot of ordinary people on both sides of the border are feeling the pinch. It’s par for the course with Trump at the helm.
For Canadians during this not-so-free-trade calamity, NAFTA becomes a key political play for Trudeau. Whether the actual trade agreement is beneficial or not to Canada is irrelevant; it’s how he reacts to the Big O Down Below that will determine whether Canada will be governed by a Liberal majority in 2019. Canadians have shown that it’s Trudeau’s reaction and his maneuvering behind, around and in front of Trump that matter now. Polls indicate that when Trudeau doesn’t back down, his approval rating climbs.
If Trudeau wants to avoid breaking his perfect nose on his downward spiral, he needs to be tough, smart and absolutely consistent in dealing with Trump & Co. Canadians want to rally behind a prime minister who actually puts Canada first. (Yes, I choked on those words as they’re eerily similar to The Big Orange One’s ‘MAGA’ theme.)
In an ironic twist, the more Trump declares “war” on Canada — be it via trade or Twitter or whatever diabolical dream The Big O Down Below thinks of next — the better it is for Wonder Boy Trudeau. Whether NAFTA negotiations resume or crumble is insignificant to Canadians as long as Wonder Boy realizes the magnitude of the significance for him.
Not only are Canadians watching and waiting, so are Americans. We all need Trudeau to stand up and resist Trump, regardless of the political agenda.
Madmeg is chief of The Shinbone Star’s Canada Bureau.