Tariffs and Trumpspeak
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.