PM causes cracks in trade deals strat­egy

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - OPINION - — An­thony Furey

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 Fran­coisPhilippe 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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.