As unpleasant as it may be to contemplate, David Olive believes that Canadians should prepare for a trade war with Donald Trump's America. He writes:
Donald Trump, going against his word and without warning, has already threatened the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Canadian dairy farmers and softwood lumber workers. And it came as a stunning revelation last week that Trump had been poised to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a vital underpinning of Canada’s prosperity, on April 29.It would be delusional to believe that Trump changed his mind due to last-minute phone conversations in which the Canadian and Mexican heads of government warned him of the massive short- and medium-term wreckage that killing NAFTA would cause. Whatever counsel Trump actually heeded in sparing the pact (for now) surely came from Trump confidantes.Trump has signaled that it’s open season on all Canadian industries. Emboldened by the president’s cavalier regard for America’s purported best friend, powerful U.S. lobby groups have already set their sights on the Canadian aerospace, aluminum, mining and intellectual property sectors, among others.
So what should we do? Olive suggests that we adopt a three phase strategy:
Phase One: Ottawa would promptly abide by the request of B.C. Premier Christy Clark, who has the livelihoods of about 60,000 softwood-lumber workers to protect, in imposing a moratorium on U.S. coal headed for export markets via the federal Port of Vancouver. Trump is obsessed with reviving the U.S. coal industry.Ottawa would also announce that Canada is embracing Japan’s enthusiasm in spearheading a revival of the TPP. That would strengthen Canadian trade ties and goodwill with the TPP’s 11 Pacific Rim and South American members. An isolated U.S. would have no role in shaping, via the TPP, a Pacific Rim economy that is America’s top foreign-policy concern.TPP membership would complement Canada’s agreed-upon free trade deal with the European Union. That would accelerate progress in reducing Canada’s over-reliance on the U.S. market.Phase Two: Trump has demanded that NATO members pay more for their membership. Ottawa would announce that, actually, Canada is re-considering its NATO membership altogether.
It’s not proper to say this out loud, but NATO is chiefly an instrument of U.S. foreign policy. It’s time to rethink helping America fight its wars.Canada made its first substantive claim to sovereignty during World War I in demanding and obtaining Canadian command of Canadian troops. Yet in Afghanistan, in Syria and in joining NATO’s deployment of troops on Russia’s western frontier, our forces have continued to be directly or indirectly under U.S. command.Freed of NATO obligations, Canada would retain its ability to use its armed forces unilaterally or in coalitions, as our interests alone dictate. And we could more fully deploy our military resources on peacekeeping, which we pioneered but have sadly neglected in recent decades.Phase Three: In constructing a long-overdue national energy strategy by the end of this year, Canada would reconsider its energy export practices.America’s largest source of imported oil is the Athabasca tar sands. And much of the power that lights up the U.S. northeast is generated by Hydro-Quebéc.The rates we charge for those energy exports bear examination, since much of them are underpriced. Also, Athabasca, in particular, wreaks enormous environmental damage in Canada and is a significant contributor to global warming. That undermines Canadian goodwill, and makes tougher the challenge of meeting our CO2-reduction commitments under the Paris Accords.The R&D into continual technological improvement needed to reduce that damage should be borne at least partly by U.S. energy consumers.A carbon surtax on fossil-fuel exports would achieve that goal. Trump is adamantly opposed to putting a price on carbon emissions — the only certain way of reducing them. But then, Trump regards global warming as a “hoax” perpetrated by China to disadvantage U.S. industry.
Some of Olive's proposals -- like the threat to withdraw from NATO -- are highly controversial. And things could get very nasty. But having seen how Trump deals with American health care, no one should be surprised.
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