PM causes cracks in trade deals strategy
Earlier this year, the Liberal government’s approach to renegotiating NAFTA was getting nods of approval from across the board. It was hard to fault them. Even before the inauguration of Donald Trump, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s team was getting in on the ground floor — holding meetings with the transition team and reaching out to governors and industry associations.
That was then. Serious cracks have now emerged in the Liberal trade strategy — and not just when it comes to NAFTA.
On Friday, Canadians awoke to reports in Australian media that Trudeau had personally “sabotaged” and “screwed” world leaders by pulling a no-show at an important Trans-Pacific Partnership deal meeting.
“There are outstanding issues for more than one country — one of those countries is Canada. We are working hard for Canadians and Canadian jobs in important industries such as automotive, agriculture, culture and intellectual property,” a spokesperson for International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne wrote in an email.
Bringing up outstanding issues is one thing. Being the guy who cancels the signing ceremony is another. No other country with issues acted like this.
If the PM is in fact standing up for Canadian industry, then good for him. We don’t need to sign a deal just for the sake of it. Although if that’s the case, you’d think we could let our partners know ahead of time.
No, what seems to be going on is defiant progressive virtue-signalling. The Canadian Press reported a few days ago “the Trudeau government’s push for so-called progressive chapters in a revamped TPP are likely to be a tough sell among many of Canada’s partners.” They wanted chapter on environment, labour rights and gender equality.”
Trudeau was right to bring up human rights while in Vietnam the other day, but to get these countries to sign off to his version of environmentalism and feminism is a whole different matter. It’s an overreach that has little chance of success.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. For months the Liberal NAFTA strategy was above reproach. Then Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland bizarrely announced environmentalism and feminism were going to be key points in the new talks.
It took a leaked memo last month from Harper for Canadians to learn Washington is perplexed by a lot of Canada’s recent strategy, including progressive planks.
The Canadian public and many industry players keen on TPP have a whole lot more questions than there are answers. The Liberals need to clarify matters soon.