Finding the bottom line?

As the week ended with President Trump “threatening to cause the “ruination” of Canada if the countries cannot reach a NAFTA deal,” and as Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland returns home for a short break in the talks,  Mercedes Stephenson of Global News, says, on social media, that:

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That may well be the case, and Robert Lighthizer may have dug in his heels to “test” Canada’s commitments to it’s seemingly continuously variable bottom lines. Prime Minister Trudeau, especially, was portrayed, by the Financial Post, in the spring as an “outspoken advocate for policies supporting what he calls inclusive growth, in particular doing more to help women and girls succeed,” but at the end of last month the CBC reported that he told a meeting of the United Food and Commercial Workers‘ union that ““The bottom line is, after years of neglect, organized labour finally has a strong partner in Ottawa, and we will not let you down,” Trudeau said to a standing ovation from members,” and just days ago the Canadian Press reported that “Trudeau said Canadians will not sign onto a deal that does not include a dispute resolution mechanism and exemptions for cultural industries — two positions that were among the pillars of the original 1988 Canada-U.S. free trade deal.” As iPolitics noted, “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly promised to defend Canada’s supply management system at the negotiating table,” but, as The Star, says, many people now assume that, given President Trump’s intransigence on the issue, that “Canada could once again barter away a piece of its restricted — and lucrative — dairy market,” despite Quebec’s election and the outcries of dairy farmers.

It may well be a bit hard for Mr Lighthizer to figure out just what Canada’s bottom line might be … it might even be a bit difficult for Global Affairs Minister Freeland to balance all of the prime minister’s promises.

Despite his denials, some, many in the commentariat say that Prime Minister Trudeau has been playing politics with the NAFTA negotiations because, as Chantel Hébert suggests, in The Star, in the near term it is President Trump, not Prime Minister Trudeau who will be blamed if NAFTA fails … until a real recession hits Ontario. But my guess is that Team Trudeau is filled with short term thinkers who neither understand nor care much about economics and trade. The loss of tens of thousands of good jobs* is, in Team Trudeau’s mind, a fair exchange for another Liberal majority government and running against Donald Trump seems like a good tactic … for now.

I think that ~ the 2019 Canadian general election ~ is Justin Trudeau’s bottom line and he will sacrifice Canada’s most valuable trading relationship if it might help him win. I also guess that Robert Lighthizer thinks that too … and I suspect that he and President Trump both are happier with the prospect of having Justin Trudeau as an inept, ineffectual prime minister of a weakened Canada than having to face Andrew Scheer and a team of grown ups.

President Trump, in threatening “ruination,” has done something that no US leader has done for more than century: declared Canada to be an enemy of the USA. He, and his 0620trumppolicies01America, are, clearly, deranged … that why, as the New Republic says, his threats are “opposed by every major player in the American automotive industry,” not because American don’t like the Lighthizer doctrine, but, rather, because “they are hard to implement without hurting the United States itself. The intensified trade war that Trump threatens could not occur without disrupting North America’s auto manufacturing supply chain.” President Trump is a foolish man who doesn’t really understand economics or modern trade and industry, but he sits in a powerful office surrounded by people who are willing to do his foolish bidding.

 


* Which may already be happening according to a report in Friday’s Globe and Mail. “The economy,” the Good Grey Globe report says “lost 51,600 jobs last month in a decrease that drove up the unemployment rate and essentially wiped out a big gain in July, Statistics Canada said Friday … [and] … The country’s jobless rate hit six per cent in August, up from its 5.8 per cent reading in July, said the agency’s labour force survey.” The report says that “By industry, the goods-producing sector lost 30,400 jobs last month in a decline led by notable losses of 16,400 positions in construction and a drop of 9,200 in manufacturing.” I suspect half of those 16,400 construction jobs lost are a result of the Trans Canada pipeline extension project being nixed by the courts.

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