Free­land rips U.S. over tar­iffs in D.C. speech

Edmonton Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Marie-Danielle Smith

OT­TAWA • For­eign Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land pre­pared Wed­nes­day night to de­liver a strik­ing re­buke of United States poli­cies un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and a clear warn­ing that democ­racy in the world is un­der threat.

The text of the speech, pro­vided in ad­vance to the Na­tional Post, con­tains the strong­est lan­guage yet from the Cana­dian ad­min­is­tra­tion crit­i­ciz­ing U.S. pro­tec­tion­ism and its re­cent tar­iffs on steel and alu­minum.

The speech sharply ex­presses, and on Amer­i­can soil, what Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said in a press con­fer­ence af­ter the Group of Seven sum­mit on Satur­day — that Canada won’t be “pushed around” by its neigh­bour. Trump had con­nected those com­ments to a de­ci­sion to pull his sup­port for a joint state­ment by the G7 coun­tries, shortly af­ter it was pub­lished, and to con­sider new au­to­mo­bile tar­iffs on im­ports to the U.S.

The idea that democ­racy could fail may seem “out­landish,” the speech says. “But other great civ­i­liza­tions have risen — and then fallen. It is hubris to think we will in­evitably be dif­fer­ent.”

When the eco­nomic fu­ture of peo­ple liv­ing in­side lib­eral democ­ra­cies is threat­ened, the speech says, “that’s when peo­ple are vul­ner­a­ble to the dem­a­gogue who scape­goats the out­sider, the other — whether it’s im­mi­grants at home or for­eign ac­tors.”

The speech in­vokes Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln him­self be­fore launch­ing into what seems to be a direct mes­sage to Trump: “Facts mat­ter. Truth mat­ters. Com­pe­tence and hon­esty, among elected lead­ers and in our pub­lic ser­vice, mat­ter.”

In a part of the speech that fo­cuses on the Canada-U.S. re­la­tion­ship, Free­land ac­knowl­edges, “we also un­der­stand that many Amer­i­cans to­day are no longer cer­tain that the rules-based in­ter­na­tional or­der — of which you were the prin­ci­pal ar­chi­tect and for which you wrote the big­gest che­ques — still ben­e­fits Amer­ica.” This is seen “most plainly,” the speech says, in the steel and alu­minum tar­iffs that the U.S. has im­posed on Canada on a “na­tional se­cu­rity” ba­sis.

The min­is­ter then broaches new ter­ri­tory. “They are pro­tec­tion­ism, pure and sim­ple. They are not a response to un­fair ac­tions by other coun­tries that put Amer­i­can in­dus­try at a dis­ad­van­tage. They are a naked ex­am­ple of the United States putting its thumb on the scale, in vi­o­la­tion of the very rules it helped to write.” The Euro­pean Union and Mex­ico, which are also fac­ing tar­iffs, “share our as­ton­ish­ment and our re­solve,” the speech con­tin­ues.

“No one will ben­e­fit from this beg­gar thy neigh­bour dis­pute. The price will be paid, in part, by Amer­i­can con­sumers and by Amer­i­can busi­nesses,” it reads.

Chrys­tia Free­land


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