I wish Canadians would stop freaking out about Trump’s NAFTA threats, because that’s exactly what he wants us to do and it’s embarrassing. Let the American industries that will be most affected, like Agriculture, do the handwringing and pressuring, because those are the only voices Trump will pay attention to anyway. As Canadians, we need to ignore the bait and follow our government’s lead of listening with calm dignity, nodding politely, and then quietly, diligently working towards finding new trading partners while keeping the olive branch extended should this prove to be yet another blustering bluff.
Yes, I get that the livelihoods of millions of people will be affected if these trade wars get nastier. Hopefully, it won’t come to that, but if it does, Canada will survive just fine if its citizens work together. One way or another, we’re all dependent on an industry that relies on trade, and I’d rather make the sacrifices necessary to diversify our interests, than bend over for a bad deal because of fear. In the meantime, let’s keep calm and carry on, the Canadian way—I believe a Timmies coffee and some Timbits would be the best way to facilitate this process.
Long Rant version:
OFFS. What’s with the sudden deluge of doomsday predictions in every corner of Canada’s media today, when we knew this was coming? Did the pundits miss that Trump won because he promised to take immediate, drastic action to put American interests first, and pull out NAFTA immediately if Canada and Mexico refuse to give America more? If they did, then they’re idiots. His supporters have been pressing the US government for years to scrap NAFTA, so he’s doing what they elected him to do and nobody, least of all Canada, should be surprised.
That said, even Trump knows that the shock of just up and cancelling such a huge trade agreement would be disastrous, from an administrative point of view if nothing else, which is why I think it’s just a tactic to pressure Congress to open negotiations. NAFTA is long overdue for some modernizing to the mutual benefit of all three countries, but I vehemently disagree with his unilateral declarations that NAFTA does far more harm than good. The other accusation that the USA has given away more advantages than it’s taken, is equally preposterous. There is too much evidence to the contrary. While it is undeniable that some industries and communities have suffered, many others have thrived to the point it’s been a net positive overall, but if a majority of Americans don’t believe the economic data, then all this kneejerk panic in Canada and Mexico isn’t going to change anything, so why bother? It merely feeds into the perception by some that Canada needs the USA more than they need us, which is in no way true.
Ultimately, if the trust and good will between our two nations keeps eroding, and trade negotiations fail, then we’ll need to cut our losses and move on—sooner rather than later. Drafting a new Canada/Mexico FTA could be a positive first step, but whatever we choose to do, I have faith in our country. Our collective ability to compromise is an asset that’s too often underrated, and it is this that will allow us to quickly pivot and implement solutions to mitigate any damage from a failed NAFTA agreement, while we look to negotiate new agreements that will increase our exports to emerging world markets.
No matter what happens, I have a feeling that history will remember these years as the era when diplomacy went off the rails and rhetoric took the world on a nauseating ride. Like it or not, Trump DOES have the executive powers to withdraw the USA from NAFTA at any time provided he gives adequate notice—Congress is not required. So, for now, our government is doing the right thing by keeping Canada’s opinions to itself while vigorously defending our rights and communicating our position. But, if all this turns out not to be some kind bullying tactic (I think it is) and Trump follows through on his threat (unlikely), then take comfort in the fact that NAFTA hating Americans will feel the consequences as much as Canadians—trade is never a zero-sum game.