Tar­iffs and Trump­s­peak

Annapolis Valley Register - - OPINION -

As we stum­ble into trade ac­tions and re­tal­i­a­tions that nei­ther the U.S. nor any­one else needs, it’s hard not to blame Pres­i­dent Donald Trump’s pe­cu­liar and one-sided eco­nomic views. The lat­est round of tar­iffs from Trump on steel and alu­minum prod­ucts are go­ing down very poorly world-wide.

The Euro­pean Union tried a wake-up call to Repub­li­cans, tar­get­ing re­tal­ia­tory tar­iffs against prod­ucts from Repub­li­can states: Har­ley-davidson mo­tor­cy­cles and bour­bon felt the bite of new tar­iffs. Canada’s lat­est tar­iff re­tal­i­a­tion did the same thing, tar­get­ing prod­ucts from the home states of se­nior Repub­li­cans Mitch Mcconnell and Paul Ryan.

Repub­li­cans may be aware of the dam­age be­ing caused to trade be­tween our coun­tries, but Trump hasn’t ap­par­ently no­ticed. (Maybe he would if coun­tries af­fected by his new tar­iffs brought in taxes specif­i­cally on for­eign-owned golf course and man­age­ment fees for for­eign-branded ho­tels.)

Cana­dian newsprint has al­ready been hit with new tar­iffs: it’s only a mat­ter of time un­til fish prod­ucts get tar­geted, too. All it would re­ally take is for some­one in the U.S. to get Trump’s ear and com­plain that fish im­ports were hurt­ing them.

Trump has al­ready made state­ments that clearly show he has no idea what he’s talk­ing about when it comes to this coun­try. For ex­am­ple, he re­cently Tweete: “Canada has treated our Agri­cul­tural busi­ness and Farm­ers very poorly for a very long pe­riod of time. Highly re­stric­tive on Trade! They must open their mar­kets and take down their trade bar­ri­ers!”

In fact, the United States De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture begs to dif­fer.

“Canada is the lead­ing agri­cul­tural trade part­ner of the United States, when ex­ports and im­ports are com­bined. In 2015, Canada ac­counted for 16 per cent of U.S. agri­cul­tural ex­ports and 19 per cent of im­ports,” the USDA wrote in a trade re­port in April.

And those tar­iff bar­ri­ers that Trump is go­ing on about?

“From 1989 to 1998, (the Canada-u.s Trade Agree­ment) and (the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment) dis­man­tled vir­tu­ally all tar­iff and quota bar­ri­ers to Canada-u.s. agri­cul­tural trade, with a few no­table ex­cep­tions: U.S. im­ports of dairy prod­ucts, peanuts, peanut but­ter, cot­ton, sugar, and sugar-con­tain­ing prod­ucts and Cana­dian im­ports of dairy prod­ucts, poul­try, eggs, and mar­garine.” Highly re­stric­tive? Hardly.

Satur­day, Trump ar­gued that the “many bil­lions of dol­lars that the tar­iffs we are now charg­ing are, and will be, pour­ing into U.S. cof­fers.” Ap­par­ently, he doesn’t even re­al­ize that a sub­stan­tial por­tion of those tar­iffs will paid by Amer­i­can cus­tomers on in­creased prices for tar­iff-laden prod­ucts — per­haps we could just call it the Trump Tar­iff Tax.

Clearly, facts don’t mat­ter to the U.S. pres­i­dent.

It’s time to take as much of our busi­ness else­where as we pos­si­bly can, to forge even bet­ter links with the other coun­tries Trump is tar­get­ing. Amer­ica’s pres­i­dent is an eco­nomic wreck­ing ball, sig­nal­ing that coun­try is closed for busi­ness.

The Face­book pho­tos caught my at­ten­tion and imag­i­na­tion.

There, on my iphone screen, in black and white, were Nazis on the deck of a U-boat af­ter blow­ing up an oil tanker out the bay from my home­town, Cor­ner Brook.

A dis­tinct is­land known as Wee Ball was in the back­ground.

Well I’ll be …

As a his­tory lover who has penned nu­mer­ous ar­ti­cles about U-boats in our wa­ters, I was blown away.

I’d heard zilch about this in­ci­dent and ex­cit­edly dis­cussed it with any­one who’d lis­ten, which was not many be­cause in­ter­est in U-boats and the fear they struck along the Atlantic coast has sunken to new depths. And, pffft, why should peo­ple be con­cerned about his­tory when they have “Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent?”

Which is ex­actly why I thought the U-boat at­tack was worth not­ing. I be­gan fan­ta­siz­ing about re­search­ing and writ­ing a book on it, about record­ing an un­told story for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, about blow­ing this whole U-boat thing up. I planned a trip to the ar­chives to search for ac­counts of the in­ci­dent. De­pend­ing on what I found there, there would likely be a trip home to speak with any lo­cals with knowl­edge about what hap­pened.

And there would be hours of writ­ing, about a peaceful bay in­ter­rupted by an evil in­truder.

This was go­ing to be an en­joy­able, in­ter­est­ing and worth­while project. And I was re­ally pumped about it.

That en­thu­si­asm quickly came crash­ing down though. There’d be no re­search, trips home, or books, no pass­ing along an im­por­tant story for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

I’d been fooled by Face­book! And a post re­lated to an al­most 80-year-old, First World War pro­pa­ganda film at that.

Yup, turned out the U-boat pics were ac­tu­ally scenes from the “49th Par­al­lel,” a 1941 Bri­tish film star­ring Les­lie Howard and Lau­rence Olivier. Within hours of the orig­i­nal post, com­menters were post­ing links to the movie and other de­tails about it.

The plot: A U-boat crew is stranded in north­ern Canada and wants to reach the then-neu­tral United States. The U-boat scenes were filmed near old Cor­ner Brook us­ing a ship built in Hal­i­fax. The film was the top movie at the Bri­tish box of­fice in 1941 and won an Academy Award for best writ­ing, orig­i­nal story.

I was rot­ted with my­self for be­ing so naïve. So much so, I’ve waited al­most a year to write this.

As a jour­nal­ist, I should have been more skep­ti­cal about the post, about en­sur­ing it was ac­tu­ally fac­tual be­fore in­dulging in the day­dream about writ­ing a book on it.

I’m telling you now be­cause it’s be­com­ing more and more ev­i­dent you can’t be­lieve ev­ery­thing you see or read on Face­book, and I wouldn’t want any­one to fall into the same Uboat as I did.

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