Canada has to respond to Donald Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminium. But the response must not equal Trump's stupidity. Lawrence Martin writes:
You have to threaten him, says former free-trade negotiator Gordon Ritchie, with retaliatory measures that inflict real political damage. “Go after the swing states,” he says. Send Mr. Trump a message that if he persists with his plan, Ottawa will target imports from Pennsylvania, from Ohio, from Wisconsin, from Florida.
They are all states that are critical to his political prospects. They are heavily dependent on Canadian trade whether it be in machinery, metals, pharmaceuticals or agricultural products. Canada, which is the leading export destination for 38 states, is Florida’s No. 1 economic partner. Measures could be taken such as changes to tax rules for snowbirds “that would be a real gut punch,” says Mr. Ritchie.
It seems clear, that with an election going on in Pennsylvania, Trump's tariffs are meant to garner votes there. The Canadian response should be predicated on taking votes away from Trump. And, in the end, the Congress has to approve all trade treaties:
A show of tougher Canadian resolve might help spur Congress to stop Mr. Trump. Though the President has the authority to negotiate international trade agreements, the Constitution grants Congress power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” A 1962 trade law that allows the President to impose tariffs if required by national security is cited as the basis for his measures. But in the case of Canada, a long-time ally and defence supporter, it is a demonstrably specious contention.
One suspects that Congressmen and women will vote in their own self interest. And their self interest doesn't coincide with Trump's self interest -- or analysis:
In the annals of bilateral relations, it is hard to find examples of a presidential action so shoddily conceived as this one. It wasn’t thought out. It was blurted out. On national security it makes no sense. On trade deficits (with Canada there is none) it makes no sense. On China, purportedly the chief target, it makes no sense in that it hurts American allies more.
Trump's actions are colossally stupid. Canada's should be wiser -- much wiser.