Chrystia Freeland is back in Washington, trying to hammer out a trade deal. That's no small task, given the fact that -- as Bob Woodward's new book and the recent anonymous editorial in The New York Times make painfully clear -- Trump is off his presidential rocker. Part of the problem is Trump's animus toward Canada. Lawrence Martin doesn't pinpoint the cause. but he writes that it burns intensely:
In his America-First campaign, Mr. Trump is remarkably casting Canada among the predator nations taking advantage of his so-called hard-done-by country. As Kim Campbell, our former nano-second Prime Minister, said the other day, we’ve usually been the ones complaining of neglect by the United States. It’s been a staple of our history. Anti-Americanism constituted a lengthy chapter.
Now we have a president who has turned the tables. Canadians are the villains. We’re so dastardly on trade that he’ll have to drive us into submission. We’re also, if it can be imagined, a geopolitical threat, and so he’s hammered us with steel tariffs and warnings of worse to come if we don’t buckle under. Add to this his insults, his distortions and his attacks at the G7 summit, and it can be said that no president has ever treated Canada so badly. If he keeps at it, despite his protestations about loving Canada, Donald Trump will go down as the first anti-Canadian president.
And it's been there for a long time:
In full-page newspaper ads in 1987, he wrote that, “The world is laughing at America’s politicians as we protect ships we don’t own, carrying oil we don’t need, destined for allies who won't help.” Americans, he said back then, “are tired of watching other countries ripping off the United States.” On trade he complained of being “like a whipping post for Japan. ... Look what Japan does with the cars and the subsidies they get.”
With NAFTA, the “worst trade deal ever,” Canada was added to his target list, and there it remains.
Facts have never mattered to Trump. They still don't:
There is no coming to grips with the fact that there is no trade imbalance with Canada, with the fact that the ripped-off charge is imaginary, with the idea that the whole crisis is more Seinfeldian than real. Modernizing a trade agreement hardly had to be an apocalyptic exercise. Dairy trade, for example, is a major sticking point in the talks. Dairy accounts for a minuscule 0.12 per cent of bilateral trade of US$680-billion last year. Canada subsidizes its dairy industry, but so does Washington, which just put up a US$12-billion package to protect U.S. farmers, including dairy producers.
He is, indeed, a mad king. The last one the Americans had to deal with was George III. The simple truth is that we may not be able to deal with Trump. And, in the long run, we may be better off for it.