I wrote, just yesterday, that, in my opinion, real Conservatives are free traders. Protectionists like Donald Trump, are not conservatives, at all … they are horses of other colours entirely.
But earlier I wrote, somewhat approvingly, of President Trump’s notion of America being self-sufficient. His views, I suggested, marked a fundamental shift away from our (the US-led West’s) thrust, over the past 75 years, towards globalization.
These are not inconsistent positions. Adam Smith said that we should take advantage of our many abilities to specialize ~ those who lived near rivers were more likely to do better at milling while those who had ready access to wood were mote likely to be bakes or Cooper. He did not suggest that a community or a nation should not seek to be self-sufficient. What President Trump seeks, inside his version of a Fortress America, is isolationism of an extraordinarily high order. He can get fairly close … but close only counts when tossing horseshoes … or hand-grenades.
Canada is naturally and politically blessed to be in North America … even with Donald J Trump. We have abundant natural resources, including resources that our larger, richer friends and neighbours, the Americans, need … not just want, need. We also have a well-educated population and, despite Justin Trudeau, we have strong social and political institutions. Close economic and business ties with the USA. make sense and, between the two countries, a very high level of strategic self-sufficiency is possible.
We should want to help the USA to achieve a high degree of strategic security and, in the broadest sense, that includes industrial and commercial self-sufficiency, too … not to the degree that many Trumpians want, but they are right to not want their country (and the world) to be dependent on supply chains that ALL go through China. North America is, as I said, blessed with resources and that even includes the rare earth elements that are essential to high-tech devices and which are found in Canada. China and Australia are the largest producers of rare earth elements but there is no good reason, beyond money, good engineering and political will, why Canada should not be a major global supplier, too.
There is no reason why Canada should not, simultaneously, pursue a closer alliance with the USA ~ embracing strategic self-sufficiency (energy, strategic minerals, food and water) and strategic security (a defence arrangement that includes continental ballistic missile defence) and pursue extensive trade diversification with e.g. India and the CANZUK countries. There is nothing inconsistent in wanting to have both strategic self-sufficiency and wanting to be a global free trader.