Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has just concluded what was, by all accounts, a partially successful and important visit to India. It was only partially successful because, as Prime Minister Turnbull concedes, a comprehensive trade deal might not be possible, in some part because “The traditions of protectionism in India run very deep,” and “Australia has resisted India’s push for it to relax some immigration restrictions — including on 457 visas — which would allow greater numbers of Indians to work in Australia.“
But, India is poised to become the world’s third largest economy, and it is an important trading partner and military ally for Australia and for Canada, too. India is a partner in the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which, if it can be brought to fruition will unite the ASEAN Nations plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea into the world’s richest free trade area … Canada needs to find a way to join that group.
Prime Minister Turnbull is doing what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ought to be doing: he’s “out and about” doing his best to drum up trade and military partnerships with traditional friends and with ideological competitors, alike. Prime Minister Trudeau, on the other hand, seems tied to Canada as the Liberals try to dampen the damage from his holiday on the Aga Khan’s luxury private island. (He, Prime Minister Trudeau, should, simply, stand up, “man up,” as they say, and admit that he (and he can blame his team, too) make a “rookie mistake” and that he will be much more careful in the future … the problem is not huge, it is forgivable, at a low cost in political capital, but Team Trudeau seems unable to admit that Justin Trudeau is anything less than perfect.)
Prime Minister Trudeau needs to use his very real “star power” to get out and drum up business for Canada, as some of his predecessors have done. Neither Prime Minister Chrétien nor Prime Minister Harper had anything like Justin Trudeau’s celebrity status but they put Canada first and used whatever political capital they had to secure trade deals for Canada. It was hard work, sometimes they had to “give” in order to “get,” and that caused political problems at home, but they persevered and Canada is the better for it.
There are several key deals, some, like the CETA are almost done but still need attention, others with Australia, post Brexit Britain and New Zealand, with China and with India still need to be negotiated. Canada is a major trading nation. Our leader needs to worry less about being green and a feminist and extolling the virtues of “sunny ways” and more about securing trade deals for Canadians.