From the Editor / L. Ian Mac­Don­ald

Free Trade at 30, Re­new­ing NAFTA at 25

Policy - - In This Issue - From the Editor / L. Ian Mac­Don­ald

Welcome to our spe­cial is­sue mark­ing 30 years since the ne­go­ti­a­tion of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agree­ment, and 25 years since a tri­lat­eral deal was struck to in­clude Mex­ico, pro­duc­ing the NAFTA.

We be­gin with a Q&A with Brian Mul­roney, the ar­chi­tect of the CanadaU.S. FTA in 1987 and NAFTA in 1992. We met at the for­mer prime min­is­ter’s Montreal law of­fice as the NAFTA talks were un­der­way in Au­gust. Mul­roney has been ad­vis­ing Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land and se­nior Cana­dian of­fi­cials on NAFTA, and he’s been im­pressed by their fo­cus and man­age­ment of the file, par­tic­u­larly the re­la­tion­ship with mer­cu­rial U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

In a Ver­ba­tim, we of­fer Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau’s speech to the U.S. Na­tional Gover­nors As­so­ci­a­tion in mid-July, in which he re­minded them that Canada is the largest cus­tomer of two-thirds of Amer­i­can states, and that “Canada buys more from the U.S. than China, Ja­pan and the UK com­bined.”

Poll­ster Frank Graves pro­vides in­sights into the gen­er­ally pos­i­tive state of pub­lic opin­ion and mood of Cana­di­ans about NAFTA and free trade go­ing into the talks. And the new Con­ser­va­tive Leader, An­drew Scheer, of­fers the Of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion’s per­spec­tive on the trade ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Pres­i­dent Trump has made re­duc­ing Amer­ica’s trade deficit his num­ber one pri­or­ity in the NAFTA talks. BMO Cap­i­tal Mar­kets deputy chief econ­o­mist Michael Gre­gory crunches the num­bers of U.S. trade sta­tis­tics and con­cludes that Trump’s is­sue isn’t so much with Mex­ico, de­spite a $64 bil­lion mer­chan­dise trade deficit in 2016, but with China, with whom the U.S. has a deficit of nearly $350 bil­lion.

In a let­ter from Wash­ing­ton, for­mer Cana­dian diplo­mat Paul Frazer won­ders about the po­ten­tial im­pact of Trump tweet­ing on the talks. “Pres­i­den­tial tweets,” he notes, “can put ev­ery as­pect of the NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tion to the test of pub­lic scru­tiny.” Car­leton Univer­sity’s Mered­ith Lilly looks at the pol­i­tics and time­lines for get­ting a new deal done, no­tably the Mex­i­can elec­tions next July, and the U.S. mid-terms next Novem­ber. En­sight Canada’s John Dela­court, for­mer di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the Lib­eral Re­search Bureau, looks at how Team Canada has pre­pared for the talks.

Vet­eran for­eign af­fairs hand Jeremy Kins­man has been deal­ing with the Amer­i­cans for decades, and re­minds us of the checks and bal­ances in the U.S. sys­tem. “The divi­sion of pow­ers means that Amer­i­can ne­go­tia­tors aren’t free agents,” he writes. “They need to an­swer to Congress as well as to the pres­i­dent.” Earn­scliffe’s Sarah Goldfeder, a for­mer ad­viser to two U.S. am­bas­sadors to Ottawa, writes about pres­sures from Congress and the obli­ga­tions un­der “fast track”, the pres­i­dent’s trade pro­mo­tion au­thor­ity. Her Earn­scliffe col­league Paul Moen con­sid­ers trade reme­dies be­yond the dis­pute set­tle­ment pan­els un­der Chap­ter 19 of the NAFTA.

Vet­eran NDP strate­gist Robin Sears, on the los­ing side of the free trade elec­tion of 1988, looks back 30 years later and notes that his party’s con­stituen­cies to­day are par­tic­i­pants in the NAFTA re­newal process.

Tom d’Aquino has fol­lowed trade pol­icy dis­cus­sions for decades and is an op­ti­mist on the NAFTA talks, for which he writes that Canada is very well pre­pared. Cana­dian Cham­ber of Com­merce Pres­i­dent Per­rin Beatty shares the views of the busi­ness com­mu­nity, while CN Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer Jean-Jac­ques Ruest writes that rail­ways are the trans­porta­tion hub of NAFTA.

In an ex­cerpt from his new mem­oir, My Peer­less Story, Alvin Cramer Se­gal shares the in­side story of how the Cana­dian ap­parel in­dus­try, and par­tic­u­larly Peer­less Cloth­ing, be­came big win­ners un­der the Canada-U.S. FTA and, later, the NAFTA. Fi­nally, colum­nist Don New­man of­fers his take on Don­ald Trump and the NAFTA talks.

In Canada and the World, phi­lan­thropist and for­mer in­vest­ment banker Don­ald K. John­son writes that the fall fis­cal up­date of­fers the Trudeau gov­ern­ment and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau “a golden op­por­tu­nity” to “tweak the rules for char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions” by ex­empt­ing the sale of pri­vate com­pa­nies and real es­tate from the cap­i­tal gains tax if the pro­ceeds are do­nated to a reg­is­tered char­ity.

Vet­eran Lib­eral strate­gist Tom Ax­wor­thy looks at pop­ulist de­vel­op­ments such as Trump­ism and Brexit and wor­ries that the pol­i­tics of re­sent­ment threat­ens the pol­i­tics of in­clu­sion.

Fi­nally, David Mitchell looks at the new mi­nor­ity NDP gov­ern­ment in B.C. and as­sesses its prospects for sur­vival, which are look­ing up fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of for­mer Lib­eral Leader Christy Clark, who has also re­lin­quished her seat, giv­ing Pre­mier John Hor­gan more breath­ing room in the leg­is­la­ture.

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