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NAFTA is all about trade, the Liberals Shopping list is not. You have to wonder where this will go.

Canada's NAFTA goals include modernizing labour and environmental standards, Freeland says

Foreign affairs minister suggests Canada will push back against Buy American limits on government contracts

CBC NewsPosted: Aug 14, 2017 9:44 AM ET Last Updated: Aug 14, 2017 10:47 AM ET

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada will seek to modernize North America's 23-year-old trade deal to update its labour standards, ease the cross-border movements of professionals, cut red tape and open up government procurement.

Talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement begin on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Freeland is now on Parliament Hill with three of her top trade officials, taking questions from the Commons committee on international trade. is carrying her testimony live starting at 10 a.m. ET.

In a speech earlier in the day to the University of Ottawa, Freeland pointed to Canada's free-trade deal with the European Union as an example of the kind of "progressive" trade pact Canada wants to see in a new NAFTA.

Specifically, she pointed to strong labour safeguards, integrated environmental protections, a new chapter on gender rights to promote gender equality, a chapter dedicated to Indigenous people and reforming the investor-state dispute settlement process to ensure governments can pass regulations in the public interest with facing corporate legal action.

The Canada-EU deal, known as CETA, comes into effect Sept. 21.

Freeland said those "progressive elements," including labour standards, were important to maintaining popular support for free markets.

"Canadians broadly support free trade. But their enthusiasm wavers when trade agreements put our workers at an unfair disadvantage because of the high standards that we rightly demand. Instead, we must pursue progressive trade agreements that are win-win, helping workers both at home and abroad to enjoy higher wages and better conditions."


Freeland said the re-negotiations are an opportunity to cut red tape and harmonize regulations to "make life easier for business people on both sides of the border."Politics

Also among the six goals Freeland set out in her speech Monday:

  • Creating a freer market for government procurement by pushing back against "local-content provisions" for major government contracts, a swipe at "Buy American" laws in the United States.
  • Easier cross-border movement of business professionals by expanding NAFTA's Chapter 16 provisions for temporary entry for businesspeople.
  • Maintaining Canada's traditional protections under NAFTA, including a dispute resolution system to ensure anti-dumping and countervailing duties are applied fairly, as well as an exception to preserve Canadian culture and Canada's system of supply management.

Joining Freeland at Monday's committee meeting are NAFTA chief negotiator Steve Verheul, deputy minister for international trade Tim Sargent and Martin Moen, director general, North America and investment.

Committee chair Mark Eyking noted that Mexico's ambassador to Canada was among those watching the committee meeting.

Freeland is scheduled to hold a press conference after her testimony, at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Freeland will travel to Washington on Tuesday for a dinner with her U.S. and Mexican counterparts the night before the first round of formal negotiations is set to take place.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland discusses modernizing NAFTA at public forum at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa on Monday. Talks to renegotiate NAFTA being Wednesday in Washington, D.C. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

In the run-up to NAFTA renegotiations, the Liberal government waged a massive outreach to U.S. officials to send a message about the mutual importance of NAFTA to jobs and prosperity on both sides of the border. 

Since Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, cabinet ministers, parliamentary secretaries, premiers and provincial/territorial ministers, parliamentary committees and other parliamentarians have made more than 175 visits to the U.S. or engaged with senior officials in Canada, according to data provided by Global Affairs Canada. 

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I wonder is Trump will pay attention to this possibility?

U.S. would feel our pain from NAFTA changes


  • Calgary Herald
  • 14 Aug 2017
  • CHRIS VARCOEJASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS A new study shows changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement that would damage the Canadian energy industry would also have a serious effect on a number of U.S. states.

As Canada, Mexico and the United States sit down this week to begin renegotiating NAFTA, here’s one thing for our southern neighbours to ponder.

Any action that gores Canada’s ox on energy will also hurt the U.S.

It’s not only the Texas oilpatch that could get squeezed by protectionist measures that impede trade, but in states such as California and Illinois.

A new study by the Calgarybased Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) shows just how close the ties are between the two countries when it comes to oil and natural gas supply.

Domestic energy investment and production not only creates jobs and activity north of the border, it is expected to generate an eye-popping US$45.6 billion in economic impact in U.S. states between this year and 2027.

It will also create or sustain 405,000 U.S. jobs during that period, according to the thinktank.

“It’s not just the typical energy producing provinces or states that get a benefit out of Canadian oil and gas production, but it’s many other economies as well,” says CERI chief executive Allan Fogwill.

“If there is a negative impact on Canadian oil and gas, it will impact the U.S. economy.”

Last year, Canada supplied 41 per cent of total U.S. oil imports, while almost 3.3 million barrels of crude each day headed south.

As well, eight billion cubic feet per day of Canadian gas made its way into the U.S. last year, while 2.1 bcf/d from the U.S. was shipped across the 49th parallel.

The 88-page study by CERI examined the overall economic impact created by operating and capital spending in the oilsands, as well as from conventional petroleum production in Canada.

Energy companies north of the border purchase an array of American goods and services — such as trucks used in the oilsands or machinery needed for drilling — and create economic activity selling petroleum products into various American markets.

According to the American Petroleum Institute (API), 69 U.S. refineries use crude oil imported from Canada.

CERI estimates the impact for the U.S. from conventional Canadian oil and gas activity during the 11-year period will hit $29.6 billion, while another $16 billion will flow from the oilsands.

The biggest winners in the cross-border sweepstakes are energy-producing areas such as Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Pennsylvania, but also states such as California, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Florida.

The Lone Star State is the biggest beneficiary with the impact estimated at $14.3 billion. California sits in second place at $4.8 billion.

This data could prove useful when NAFTA renegotiations begin Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Since the ascension of Donald Trump to the White House, there’s been a nagging worry the president’s protectionist bent — famously calling NAFTA “the worst trade deal” ever signed — could jeopardize the integrated system that sees oil and gas moving in both directions.

Fears of a U.S. border adjustment tax that would penalize Canadian petroleum have subsided, but the unpredictable president could shift gears at any moment.

Energy trade benefits all sides, a point hammered home recently in a joint statement by oil and gas industry groups in each country.

“NAFTA works,” declares the statement from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), API and the Mexican Association of Hydrocarbon Companies.

The statement notes that as early as 2020, the continent will become energy self-sufficient because of growing Canadian oilsands production, surging U.S. shale oil and natural gas output and an influx of investment into Mexico’s energy sector.

“NAFTA has been a success story for energy for the oil and natural gas industry and for the energy interests of all three countries,” says Aaron Padilla, the API’s senior adviser for international policy.

“There are a couple of issue areas, (but) we would qualify those as really at the margins.”

CAPP vice-president Nick Schultz says the sector hasn’t seen anything to indicate “energy is in the gun sights” in the upcoming talks, but believes it’s important to spell out the benefits of free trade.

“We want to make it very clear that the agreement we have fundamentally works, that a lot of investment has been made on the basis of it,” he says.

Support from the sector for open borders and liberalized trade is helpful.

But it’s more critical to ensure Americans outside the industry understand the benefits and potential risks that any obstruction — either deliberate or unintended — could have, such as in higher pump prices or fewer jobs.

Benn Proctor, a program associate with the Wilson Centre’s Canada Institute in Washington, says data on how much crossborder energy trade means to state economies should help Canada’s cause.

“By being able to go out armed with these facts and figures, Canadian politicians and businesspeople can actually go out to places in Georgia and talk to the mayor of Atlanta and say, ‘This is how much steel makes its way to Alberta because of our energy industry,’” he says.

“These organizations out of the beltway will listen to you.”

One thing is for certain: NAFTA is about to be reopened and Canada must play its cards carefully in the months ahead.

Now, the country has solid information on its side to make its case across America.

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And now a commentary on what the Libs maybe doing.


Andrew Coyne: Is the Liberals’ NAFTA wish list a sign they are setting up talks to fail?

Do Trudeau’s people really think the Trumpians could be induced to accept bringing climate change into it? And gender? And Indigenous rights?

August 14, 2017
7:54 PM EDT

Filed under

I said we should be prepared to walk away from the negotiations. I didn’t say we should deliberately sandbag them from the outset.

The government of Canada has at last revealed its objectives for talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a month after the Trump administration released its own. Of course, the nature of any such exercise is to reveal as much about each side’s perceptions of the other’s negotiating position; it makes no sense to come to the table with demands that haven’t a ghost of a chance of being accepted.

From which we must conclude that what Donald Trump wants out of a renegotiated NAFTA, in the Trudeau government’s estimation, is a feminist-aboriginal rights manifesto against global warming. Either that, or Justin Trudeau and his advisers have concluded the talks have no chance of succeeding, and are already preparing for their demise.

It is hard, otherwise, to make sense of the government’s apparent belief that the talks, instituted at the behest of a government that is not only the most protectionist U.S. administration in nearly a century, but also the most overtly regressive, offer a golden opportunity to convert NAFTA into a wish list of the most fevered ambitions of liberal progressives, circa this minute.

As outlined by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in her University of Ottawa speech Monday morning, they include not only incorporating existing side letters on labour and environmental standards into the core of the agreement, but also “efforts to address climate change.” Also “a new chapter on gender rights.” Not to mention “an Indigenous chapter.” Oh, and we’re also going to keep supply management and every existing exclusion for the cultural industries, thank you, two areas specifically targeted by the Trump administration for elimination.


Well, all right: maybe it’s just an opening bargaining position. The first two, what is more, are no more than what the Trump administration has itself proposed, I’m guessing out of a belief that they would primarily disadvantage the Mexicans. But do Trudeau’s people really think the Trumpians could be induced to accept bringing climate change into it? And gender? And Indigenous rights?

Even if these are as fantastically meaningless as, for example, the gender chapter lately added to the Canada-Chile free trade agreement (“The Parties acknowledge the importance of incorporating a gender perspective into the promotion of inclusive economic growth” should give you the flavour of it) it is hard to imagine Trump or his advisers accepting the symbolism, or the precedent. On the other hand, having publicly raised these issues, with the uncompromising constituencies attached to each, it is hard to imagine Trudeau’s people signing onto an agreement that does not contain them.

Is it inconceivable, then, that the Trudeau government is setting the talks up to fail? It would not be an unreasonable supposition on their part. Of three possible outcomes — a successful conclusion to the negotiations, leading to an agreement between the three countries on a renewed NAFTA; failure, followed by Trump making good on his threat to abrogate the treaty; and failure, unaccompanied by abrogation — the third may well be the most likely.

The chances of the first might be rated as slim in light of the several deal-breakers in the lengthy list of negotiating objectives the Trump administration released last month, the effect of any one of which would be to transform NAFTA beyond recognition. These include mandated reductions in the U.S. trade deficit with Canada and Mexico; elimination of the Chapter 19 binational dispute resolution panels; some sort of “mechanism” to curb alleged exchange rate manipulation; and so on.

Canada and Mexico might be more inclined to accept these, if the alternative were to lose NAFTA altogether. As time has worn on, however, Trump’s threat seems less and less likely to be carried out. It is to be doubted whether he has the legal power to do so unilaterally: trade is a shared jurisdiction between the president and Congress. As trade lawyer Jon Johnson points out in a paper for the C.D. Howe Institute (“The Art of Breaking the Deal: What President Trump Can and Can’t Do About NAFTA”), while Trump could give the required six months’ notice of withdrawal, Congress would have to repeal the implementing legislation.

But even if Trump has the legal power, it is very much to be doubted whether he has the political clout to do so — not only because of the many and powerful U.S. interests with a stake in NAFTA’s continuance, whom the Trudeau government has been assiduously courting, but by his own increasing political isolation, not to say impotence.

That leaves the third option: the talks fail, followed by … nothing. In which case the existing agreement remains in place. Suppose you were a Trudeau adviser, and you thought that the most likely outcome. Suppose, too, you were obsessed as ever with co-opting union and left-wing support from the NDP and otherwise depriving that party of political oxygen. Would it not make sense, from that perspective, to get your grandstanding demands on the record now, so as to be able to pretend, when the inevitable happens, that you fought the good fight?

But as it is: you keep the left happy by seeming to campaign for a more progressive NAFTA, while the centre and right are happy so long as NAFTA remains intact. As they say in the negotiating business, it’s win-win.

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The Trump Unit: Inside the PMO's NAFTA squad

U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One at Hagerstown Regional Airport in Hagerstown, Md., Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, August 20, 2017 8:27AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, August 20, 2017 8:28AM EDT

WASHINGTON -- If Donald Trump deploys the big bomb during upcoming NAFTA negotiations, and threatens to blow up the continental trade agreement, a unit within the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be assigned to try disarming it.

The Canadian government has created an election-style nerve centre to handle White House-related challenges and officials who describe its operations say it has about eight regular staff: two former trade officials, two senior PMO officials, an ambassador, a writer, a cabinet minister, and it's run by a young staffer with a reputation for staying cool while smothering political fires.

The most blistering inferno it's preparing to confront is a scenario where the president threatens NAFTA. Everybody involved anticipates the threat level from Trump will rise with the heat of negotiations.

A well-connected Washington lobbyist milling about last week's talks said a Trump pullout threat is virtually assured: "Almost 100 per cent." Trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said it's a logical play for the president: "The threat of withdrawal is his key negotiating leverage."

However one former U.S. trade official says the president has shown himself too eager to play his best card. He said the president has weakened his hand with an April tactical error, when he threatened to blow up NAFTA four months before negotiations started.

Robert Holleyman said Canada and Mexico got a valuable heads up on what would happen next: the business community panicked, lawmakers were miffed, and Washington made clear it preferred saving NAFTA.

"It was, at a minimum, terrible timing," said Holleyman, Barack Obama's deputy United States Trade Representative.

"You do that at the 11th hour in the negotiation -- not at the throat-clearing stage... I suspect President Trump will be unable to play that card again. And if he does play it, it won't be as strong as it would've been... The Canadians and Mexicans will say, 'You... will face a huge backlash in your own Congress."'

Congress definitely holds some power: It could refuse to cancel the law implementing NAFTA, which would set up court fights between the various parties including the president, industries, and possibly lawmakers.

It's the job of that Ottawa unit to prevent that messy scenario.

The Canada-U.S. unit resembles, in several ways, a campaign war room -- though its members hate that term. It gathers data on key constituencies -- for instance, it collects American politicians' opinions on issues and plugs them into a database.

It plans outreach efforts. It co-ordinates rapid response.

All the relationship-building in recent months involving ministers criss-crossing the U.S. for hundreds of meetings would be deployed in the event of a crisis. For example: Should Trump try ending NAFTA, instructions might quickly go out to Canadian minister X to call U.S. state governor Y to lobby friendly Washington official Z.

That order would come from the centre.

The idea for a dedicated unit came before Trump's inauguration, from PMO officials Gerald Butts and Katie Telford, longtime Ontario provincial political officials who had used the approach before on top issues.

"This is the unit that spends 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, thinking about this -- trying to anticipate every possibility," said one official.

"The U.S. file is... so super-hot that you can take the slightest thing and turn it into a huge story that's in every newspaper in North America. It's really important to have the right person (handling it)."

Enter Brian Clow.

He was chief of staff to Chrystia Freeland when she was trade minister, but that's not the principal reason he was brought in. What senior officials like was his penchant for staying cool, and working fast, in the Liberal election war room in 2015.

Clow would not speak for this story.

But someone who trained him in working war rooms was happy to share some thoughts about him and the job. It was Warren Kinsella who brought the modern campaign war room to Canada in 1993, modelled on Bill Clinton's 1992 run, and who also authored, "Kicking Ass In Canadian Politics."

Kinsella demands three attributes from war-room staff: Keeping your mouth shut about the war room. Working fast. Doing thorough research.

These campaign operations shape news coverage by providing key components of a story, quickly, to journalists operating in a tougher environment of 24-hour news and declining research budgets: quotes, facts, and people willing to be interviewed.

"(Clinton aide James) Carville told me, 'The media atom has split.'... You can't just take (reporters) out to lunch and spin them and the story appears two days later,"' Kinsella said.

"(A war room is) basically a newsroom."

It also provides a central hub so different offices are in contact, and don't contradict each other. The Canada-U.S. unit includes the PMO's Butts and Telford, Freeland, ambassador to Washington David MacNaughton, and writer Michael Den Tandt.

Kinsella was impressed with his speed, cool, and ability to pump out video content while he worked on the 2007 and 2011 Ontario Liberal campaigns.

The Trump mission is infinitely harder, Kinsella said.

Kinsella joked that in elections all his job entailed was pulling pins from grenades and lobbying them. This team must prevent explosions, while working with thousands of officials, multiple government departments, two countries, industry groups, one global economic superpower, and an unpredictable president.

The unit got to conduct early test runs.

When Trump complained about Canadian dairy and lumber, and threatened a NAFTA pullout, it handled the response. The Canadian side kept the temperature down; it responded to heated rhetoric with statistics and telephone calls, and things quickly cooled down.

"They can't declare war on Trump," Kinsella said. "In this situation you can't throw hand grenades -- we're David, they're Goliath."

NAFTA negotiations last week offered a glimpse of the unit's work.

The U.S. government began by complaining about Canada's historic trade surpluses. Canadian officials were later in the lobby, handing out fact sheets showing a trade deficit.

"We used to call those 'heat sheets," Kinsella explained. He'd have his team slip them under hotel-room doors while reporters were sleeping, so they might shape the next day's news.

"You build an incremental case," Kinsella said.

"That's how you win a campaign."

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Am I the only one who the irony isn't lost upon over the fact that it was the Americans who pushed for NAFTA in the first place, and now that because it's biting them in the behind, Canada and Mexico are the bad guys?  Just another facepalm.....

The approval by the Congress of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a victory of engagement and competition over withdrawal and complacency. The trade pact, which will eliminate tariffs on goods and services between the United States, Canada, and Mexico over a fifteen-year time span, will create the world's largest market: some 360 million people, with an economic output of more than $6 trillion a year. The NAFTA thus guarantees that American workers will remain the most competitive in the world and that American consumers will continue to have access to the world's finest goods and services.

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Canada’s economic cooling could turn into a deep freeze: observers

  • Calgary Herald
  • 21 Aug 2017
The uncertainty surrounding efforts to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico, amid weakening signs of growth, may jeopardize both exports and business capital spending in 2018, according to some economists.

By the time the most recent economic readings are published, they could already be relegated to the history bin. That’s not only because of the usual lag in data gathering, it’s also a matter of number-crunching being overtaken by political events.

Case in point: The current negotiating process between Canada, the United States and Mexico to determine the future of continental trade. As the playing fields change, so too will the economic numbers for each nation. By what degree remains unknown.

Initial talks began last week in Washington aimed at drastically revamping the nearly quartercentury-old North American Free Trade Agreement. It is expected to run through December, with Mexico hosting the next round and Canada taking the lead sometime later. How that process will unfold is anyone’s guess.

But one thing is for certain, the revamped NAFTA will be born into a new economic world, if already weakening signs of growth and trends in history are any indication.

“Is it conceivable that the (Canadian) economy will start to slow down in 2018? I would think it could,” said Ian Lee, a business professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. “I’m not saying there’s going to be a recession in 2018. I’m just saying no one is discussing (the possibility). ... It’s a possibility, in the background, that we could see a slowing in the fall or the winter coming up.”

In fact, there are already signs the economy is cooling.

Last week, Statistics Canada reported the manufacturing sector went into reverse during June, with sales contracting by 1.8 per cent after three straight months of gains.

The declines were focused mainly on petroleum and coal products, along with a drop in purchases of transportation equipment and weaker activity in the chemical products sector, the agency said Thursday. That’s a tough turn for manufacturers who have spent the better part of the post-2008-09 recession struggling with market losses and plant closures.

On Friday, Statistics Canada reported that consumer prices — the Bank of Canada’s key mandate concern — remained fairly tame in June, rising by 1.2 per cent on a year-over-year basis, up slightly from one per cent the previous month.

Given the modest increase in inflation, the central bank has little need at the moment to consider another hike in interest rates and will likely hold off until at least October, barring a major shock to the economy. Feeding into those numbers will be Statistics Canada’s retail sales report for June, to be released Tuesday. Forecasters are calling for an advance of 0.3-percent over the May reading.

But for the big indicator — gross domestic product for June and the second quarter as a whole — we’ll have to wait until next Thursday.

Economists have made no bones about the fact that the pace of GDP growth is slowing after a strong performance in the first half of 2017 and could ease back even farther during the remainder of the year.

It is all the more reason to acknowledge that this country, along with the United States, appears headed for a prolonged period of weaker activity.

Forecasters are generally in agreement on the GDP outlook. After 3.7 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2017, the secondquarter output was initially pegged at a hefty four per cent. That now seems overdone. Statistics Canada will publish the official growth number for the April-to-June period on Aug. 31.

“The big picture is that growth remained snappy in the (second) quarter. While our four-per-cent estimate may be a tad aggressive, the point is growth continues to rebound forcefully from the twoyear oil-induced funk,” said Douglas Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

“The uncertainty surrounding the NAFTA talks may weigh on business capital spending, especially in the many sectors where the trading relationship faces some question,” Porter said.

Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC World Markets, acknowledged that he anticipates “a slowing coming in the second half, but that simply captures some unsustainable features of a very brisk, above-trend first half ...

“Should NAFTA talks turn ugly, it could jeopardize both exports and business capital spending in 2018, two sources of growth that we are counting on to replace some, but not all, of a downshift in housing.”

The uncertainty surrounding the NAFTA talks may weigh on business capital spending, especially in the many sectors where the trading relationship faces some question


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" The North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation process began last week. The U.S. released its 17-page platform in July with more than 100 proposals, including to examine “non-tariff barriers that constrain U.S. exports to Nafta countries,” to devise “fair and open conditions for services trade,” and to establish a “timely, effective . . . transparent” system for trade disputes.

Canada has a small list, only 10 proposals. Some, including reforms of the investor-state dispute settlement process, are good topics of discussion at the bargaining table. 

But Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland wants to make Nafta “progressive.” So Canada’s Liberal government proposes including new chapters related to “gender rights” and “indigenous rights.” Seriously. Ms. Freeland wants Nafta to reflect the government’s “commitment to gender equality” and “our commitment to improving our relationship with Indigenous peoples.”

These topics should be discussed in an appropriate forum, but this isn’t it. Gender and indigenous rights have nothing to do with a trade deal. Moreover, Nafta’s successful renegotiation would benefit citizens of Mexico, Canada and the U.S., including the “progressive” elements Ms. Freeland is worried about.

This is another frustrating example of Canada’s political culture. The Liberals are perennial fence-sitters, content to shift with the prevailing political winds. The current government is one of the most left-leaning in years, regularly casting leery looks at the free market, business community and foreign policy. 

The Liberals also seem intent on blurring the lines between political and economic reality and becoming a political and economic alternative to the U.S. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent profile in Rolling Stone—cover line: “Why Can’t He Be Our President?”—is part of a long-term marketing strategy to make the young, hip, photogenic leader a progressive hero in the face of Donald Trump’s America.

Displeasure with Mr. Trump’s leadership has caused a shift in overall perceptions, too. A June Pew Research study found that only 43% of Canadians hold a favorable view of the U.S. That’s down from 65% during President Obama’s last year in office.

Canadians, many of whom share Mr. Trudeau’s and Mr. Obama’s political tendencies, seem content with this left-leaning direction. A majority of Canadians, 52.7%, approve of Mr. Trudeau, though that’s down from 61.7% last year. Canada’s political culture approves of preposterous proposals like gender and indigenous rights in Nafta. It’s the type of modern progressive agenda many Canadians want.

For the country, though, it may be a tactical error. The wiser strategy is for Canada to defend trade liberalization, elimination of unnecessary tariffs and protection of business. If Canada and the U.S. can’t find common ground on Nafta, Mexico may end up becoming North America’s voice of economic sanity."

Edited by Jaydee

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Jaydee, our (the Liberal one) list of items to be discussed re NAFA might not even be discussed.


Trump: ‘We’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA’

One week into negotiations, the only surprise is how quickly U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to cancel NAFTA came.

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2 hours ago, DEFCON said:

But don't forget that 52.7% of Canadians, that's the non-taxpaying gang, "approve of Mr. Trudeau".

Defcon that number is like most we take for "truth".  That is of course only  those polled and who knows who they were and where they resided in Canada, nor are we told how the question was posed. 

Yet another example: Our population is 4.29million and the poll only asked the question of 1,000 by phone and of course does  not say where 1000 lived or indeed their education , or indeed what was the question. 

Poll suggests Albertans want tighter methane rules for energy industry

'I also think they see it as waste — wasted money, wasted jobs'

By Bob Weber, The Canadian PressPosted: Aug 23, 2017 1:18 PM MT Last Updated: Aug 23, 2017 1:18 PM MT

A pump jack works at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta. Most methane comes from leaks from oil and gas equipment like compressors, pumps and pipelines. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

A pump jack works at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta. Most methane comes from leaks from oil and gas equipment like compressors, pumps and pipelines. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press) (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)


As governments and regulators consider new rules for methane, a poll suggests nearly three-quarters of Albertans want tighter controls on the release of a potent greenhouse gas from oil and gas facilities.

The poll, done by EKOS research and funded by Environmental Defence, says 71 per cent of those surveyed want regulations on methane release to be at least as strict as those in the U.S.

"We wanted to demonstrate that people in Alberta, in particular, want to see this issue addressed," said Tim Gray with Environmental Defence. "The data shows that they do — they care about it a lot."

Methane, also known as natural gas, is a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more potent over the long term than carbon dioxide. The energy industry is Canada's largest source and controlling those releases is considered to be one of the most cost-effective ways for the industry to address climate change.

Many American states already have requirements that force companies to inspect more often for leaks and reduce methane venting, Gray said.

The poll says 41 per cent of Albertans think their province should be equally as strict. Another 30 per cent wanted Alberta's rules to be even tighter.

Fourteen per cent of respondents thought the rules should be more relaxed and 15 per cent didn't know.

The poll surveyed more than 1,000 people by phone and online over a two-week period ending Aug. 8 and is considered accurate to within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Gray said Albertans have been living with venting and flaring of gas from energy facilities for decades and have a good understanding of the issue.

"People in Alberta have first-hand experience with methane leaks," he said. "People have had to deal with methane in the form of flaring from a human health perspective. I also think they see it as waste — wasted money, wasted jobs."

Both the federal government and Alberta's energy regulator are designing new rules to reduce those emissions.

The proposed federal regulations would force industry to regularly check for gas leaks and install equipment that prevents the gas from venting. They would apply to oil and gas wells and batteries, natural gas processing plants, compressor stations, and supporting pipelines.

Ottawa estimates that its proposed rules would reduce methane emissions by 282 megatonnes by 2035.

The Alberta Energy Regulator is considering how to meet the government's target of a 45 per cent reduction in methane leaks by 2025. The industry is the province's largest source of methane.

Regulator spokeswoman Shelley Svetanova says draft requirements will go before the public this fall with final rules expected by next summer.

An industry spokesman was not immediately available.

Gray said industry has resisted legal reduction requirements, arguing instead for guidelines.

"If we go with a much less restrictive approach, the result is going to be much higher methane emissions from Canada than is necessary if we match the approach that's being done in the U.S."

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Negotiators have run into hurdles in NAFTA talks: Canadian Press

CTV National News: NAFTA's labour divide

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, September 4, 2017 6:27AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 4, 2017 7:52AM EDT

MEXICO CITY -- Negotiators have run into a series of early sticking points on nearly every major element considered key to achieving a new NAFTA agreement, The Canadian Press has learned.

A recurring pattern involves one country raising a prized priority only to have other parties systematically refuse to engage the conversation, said one source with knowledge of how the talks are unfolding in Mexico City.

"The tone is negative," said the source, who made sure to add that it's still early, he remains hopeful a deal can be reached this year, and that obstinacy is to be expected in initial bargaining.


Unifor president Jerry Dias takes part in a labour rally during NAFTA talks in Mexico City on Friday, September 1, 2017. (Alexander Panetta / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

He cited two examples.

One is the Canadians asking for greater access to professional visas. It's a priority not just for the Canadians, but also for businesses that struggle to send staff across the border. NAFTA's visa list is outdated and doesn't include modern digital jobs. The Americans have pushed off that conversation, which risks bumping into that country's sensitive immigration politics.

Canada has returned the favour. The second example cited by the source involves Canada's supply-management system. The U.S. has started to raise it as an issue. While the U.S. has not yet tabled a formal request, with numbers, it has declared its interest in loosening Canada's import controls on dairy and poultry.

He said the Canadians refused to open the discussion on two grounds: That Canada opposes the changes on principle, and that the U.S. has its own agricultural protections, such as tight controls on sugar imports and myriad programs to help struggling farmers.

These are just two examples of an emerging pattern.

"That's literally the conversation playing out at every table," said the source, who asked not to be named given the sensitivity of the discussions. "Almost everything has been raised (even if formal proposal papers have not yet been presented). People respond, 'We have no mandate, we can't discuss it."'

The negotiators will broach additional difficult topics Monday. A schedule obtained by The Canadian Press shows that the 12 negotiating tables meeting include the groups responsible for working on auto-parts rules, government procurement and Buy American rules, and intellectual property.

But the history of international trade negotiations suggests not reading too much into early intransigence.

Former Canadian negotiator Gordon Ritchie, in his memoirs of the original 1980s Canada-U.S. trade talks, expressed frustration that the lead U.S. negotiator repeatedly refused to engage in discussions that were considered politically sensitive and that would ultimately be decided in the end by his bosses in Washington.

That's what ended up happening in 1987: the thorniest issue involved a new international dispute-settlement mechanism and it was settled in a final-night phone call between Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan confidant James Baker.

It remained true in 2015. American officials fumed during the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations that the Canadians wouldn't even talk about dairy until the final phase of talks. At the very end, the Canadians agreed to open the market to 3.25 per cent more imports.

The source said he isn't overly concerned about the early-round head-butting, which he says is expected. He says he still believes an agreement is possible by the end of the year: "I am not any more or less optimistic than I was going into this round."

The one irritant that has publicly surfaced is labour.

That's partly because Canadian labour leader Jerry Dias has been a ubiquitous presence at these talks -- addressing a Mexican rally, meeting with Canada's chief negotiator for well over an hour in a hotel lobby bar in plain sight of dozens of journalists, and doing frequent interviews and scrums with hordes of news-starved journalists staking out the Mexico City hotel where talks are being held.

Other sources say Canada has several labour priorities: It wants the U.S. to sign a series of international labour agreements it has yet to approve, and wants changes to labour laws in Mexico that would increase the salaries of auto workers.

Dias calls the higher southern salaries a win-win: Mexican workers would benefit, and Canadian and American workers might save some future jobs as more plants remain in the wealthier countries.

Sources say the U.S. considers some of those demands a non-starter. And the Mexican political establishment is passionately lined up against any drastic labour changes seen as being imposed on it by foreign countries.

Dias keeps repeating one mantra in each of these public appearances: That Mexican auto workers, who make a few dollars an hour, should have the opportunity to afford to buy the cars they make.

The Unifor president has revelled in his bad-cop role to the good-cop Canadian government which insists it wants a deal quickly that will save NAFTA.

Dias is telling reporters covering the summit that he couldn't care less if the agreement survives, that it's a bad deal for workers everywhere, and is completely indifferent when U.S. President Donald Trump threatens to blow it up as a negotiating tactic.

"When Donald Trump talks about walking away from NAFTA, nobody gets diarrhea," Dias told a crush of international reporters staked out in that hotel lobby.

A former senior U.S. trade official says he completely expected early aggressiveness from his own country. He predicts the countries will start talking numbers and specifics in a few weeks, things will get heated, and everyone will keep working toward a deal by year's end.

"I figured they were going to come out tough in the beginning," said Welles Orr, former assistant U.S. trade czar. "No surprises there... (But) the (U.S.) administration is eager to get a deal done... Everybody knows the Mexicans do as well."

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You do have to wonder where the hell our Government is going re NAFTA as the following commentary illustrates:

Canada has no business lecturing Mexico and the U.S. over labour laws: Neil Macdonald

Maybe our virtue-signalling is just tactical — something we'll drop once we get what we want. Let's hope so

By Neil Macdonald, CBC NewsPosted: Sep 06, 2017 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Sep 06, 2017 5:00 AM ET

Canada wants the United States government to prohibit "right to work" laws that exist in about half the 50 states. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)


About The Author

Photo of Neil Macdonald

Neil Macdonald
Opinion Columnist

Neil Macdonald is an opinion columnist for CBC News, based in Ottawa. Prior to that he was the CBC's Washington correspondent for 12 years, and before that he spent five years reporting from the Middle East. He also had a previous career in newspapers, and speaks English and French fluently, and some Arabic.

So, I'm going to pretend for a moment that I'm a French trade negotiator, sitting at the table with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her team, demanding a renegotiation of CETA, the Canada-EU trade agreement now being held up by Ottawa as a triumph for Canada.

"Bonjour, Madame Freeland.

"As you may know, we in France have something called Le Code du Travail. It is a progressive, unique, historic document, something we are very proud of.

"Our Code du Travail is nearly 3300 pages long. One hundred and seventy pages are devoted to rules governing termination of employment. The section on health and security is more than 400 pages long. It is complex, and employers often have to consult experts in order to properly understand it.

"We of course have a 35-hour work week, and very strict regulations ensuring workers don't have to work too hard or too long. We are proud to say we have a high minimum wage, much higher than that which exists in your country. You are closer to the levels in the United States, which we consider a form of indentured labour.


"We also make it practically impossible to fire a worker. In fact, you might be interested to know that under our law, financial difficulty or declining revenue is not in itself justification for laying off employees. The employer must effectively obtain permission from the authorities, and that permission, believe me, is not granted lightly.

"Further, it is not uncommon in France for an employee's payroll taxes to exceed the employee's salary.

"I say all these things, Madame Freeland, because Canada does not have a labour code such as ours.  

"This of course gives your companies an unfair advantage over our companies. Our companies are forced by law to behave responsibly and in a caring, compassionate fashion. Yours are not.

"So. We demand that as a matter of social justice, and basic human rights, that any trade treaty with Canada carries the obligation to create a system in Canada similar to ours. We will of course provide advisers to help you begin to fulfill your natural obligations to Canadian workers. That is our position. Merci, and let the renegotiations begin."

Along with cleaning up their labour laws, Canada wants Mexico and the U.S. to toughen up environmental regulations. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

I have no idea whether the French made any such representation during the CETA negotiations, but I suspect that if they had, Freeland would have pulled one of her now-famous bolts, walking dramatically away from the table with her team in tow as cameras rolled, and then given interviews huffing about how Canada will not accept moral dictation about workers' rights.

Canada might even characterize such demands as "virtue-signalling."

The fact is, France has its deal with workers (which its government is once again trying to change, having been forced to back down in the past), and so does Canada, and they are different, and that's that.

France has no more business lecturing us than we have lecturing, say, the United States and Mexico.

And yet, we are.

Right to work laws

Canada wants the United States government to prohibit "right to work" laws that exist in about half the 50 states. It also wants Mexico and the U.S. to toughen up environmental regulations, and wants the deal to address Indigenous and gender rights.

Admittedly, "right to work" is a pretty dubious label. It basically means workers don't have to pay union dues, which of course cripples unions. And absent a collective agreement, a worker can be fired any time for any reason, or no reason at all. Barack Obama called it "the right to work for less."

In that sense, American companies do have an edge over Canadian companies, which have to abide by far more laws meant to protect workers.

And the American workers'-rights vacuum can get pretty weird, at least by Canadian standards. My favourite example is the 2012 case of the dentist in Iowa, a right to work state, who fired his dental assistant because she was too attractive, and he was having fantasies about sex with her, and felt (along with his wife and pastor) that his horniness was endangering his marriage.

The dental assistant, whose professional behaviour had been impeccable, and whose only sin was not being ugly, sued and lost. Imagine that case going to court in Canada?The National


Canada uses 'manners and muscle' to renegotiate NAFTA3:23


Mexico is another story. It is far more corrupt, and trade unions are often effectively owned and operated by the employer, which means collective agreements aren't agreements at all, but simply the employer's notion of how things should operate. Again, that's a competitive edge.

As for environmental standards, well, we have the tarsands – sorry, the oilsands – one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet. Gender rights? We sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, which crushes minorities and treats women like house pets. Indigenous rights? I have been to indigenous communities in the United States that are wealthy, and to Indigenous communities there that are dirt poor.

Just like Canada.

A negotiating tactic

Now, it may be that our virtue-signalling to the Americans and the Mexicans is just tactical: a feel-good political statement for the home audience that we'll drop the moment we get what we really want, such as serious and fair access to their softwood lumber markets.

Maybe we just want to distract them from the fact that while they allow any shipment worth less than $800 to sail through American customs unimpeded and untaxed, exposing their retailers to foreign competition, we effectively maintain a high wall of taxes and regulations to shield Canadian retailers. And banks. And our dairy and poultry industry.

Maybe. Let's hope so.

Because we need an intact trade deal. Millions of jobs depend on it, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has admitted he doesn't have any Plan B if Donald Trump cancels NAFTA.

The fact is, labour laws and the other issues Canada is raising are part of social compacts that vary from one democracy to another. They have their systems, we have ours.

We have to do business. Let's get on with this.

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Looks to me that we could take some lessons from Mexico when dealing with the US. Perhaps Justin can hire some of their expertise.


Trump's tough trade talk targets Mexico but his actions are hitting Canada

Mexico has been quicker to hit the U.S. where it hurts on trade while Canada has remained more diplomatic

By Evan Dyer, CBC NewsPosted: Oct 08, 2017 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Oct 08, 2017 5:00 AM ET

U.S. President Donald Trump has been talking tough when it comes to his country's trading relationship with Mexico but Canada has faced the brunt of his trade actions so far. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)About The Author

Photo of Evan Dyer

Evan Dyer
CBC Reporter

Evan Dyer has been a journalist with CBC for 15 years, after an early career as a freelancer in Argentina. He can be reached at

Almost every rally during Donald Trump's campaign for president featured two bogeymen who were harming the United States and who would be put in their place if he were elected: Mexico and China.

Trump's only comment about the country north of the border during that campaign was when a Canadian reporter asked him if he was also advocating a wall between the U.S. and Canada.

"I love Canada," Trump replied.

And yet, since taking office in January and appointing Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce, Canada has received more attention. While the U.S. has taken some trade action against China, and one minor step against Mexico, the heaviest hits have been aimed at Canada.

In July, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed a 19.52 per cent countervailing duty on emulsion styrene-butadiene rubber from Mexico. Punished alongside Mexico were rubber producers in Brazil, Korea and Poland.

The duty will hardly cripple Mexico's economy; the value of the entire U.S.-Mexican trade in this obscure product is a mere $23 million.

China fared somewhat worse, or at least, Chinese producers of cold-drawn mechanical tubing, tool chests, aluminum foil, carton-closing staples and a chemical called 1-hydroxyethylidene-1, 1-diphosphonic acid (HEDP) fared worse. All were slapped with countervailing duties.

The total value to China of trade in all of those products combined is $1.77 billion.

Bombardier employees work on a CSeries 300 jet at the company's plant in Mirabel, Que. last month. Bombardier faces duties of almost 300 per cent to export its CSeries commercial jet into the U.S. market. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

How does that compare to the beating Canada has taken?

The value of Canada's softwood lumber exports to the U.S. alone is estimated at $5.66 billion. The contract between Bombardier and Delta Airlines, now threatened by tariffs and duties imposed on the Canadian company, is also thought to be about $5 billion.

None of the actions the Trump administration has taken against any of its trading partners have caused the same kind of pain as its actions against Canada.

Sweet deal for Mexican sugar?

While Canada negotiates to save the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) under the shadow of an ongoing softwood lumber dispute, Mexico has been able to set aside its own perennial irritant with the U.S.: sugar.

In many ways, the dispute between Mexican and U.S. sugar producers mirrors the softwood lumber battle with Canada.

Both disputes date back to the beginning of NAFTA. As with softwood, the sugar dispute has been through a series of negotiations, in which the U.S. pressures Mexico to accept conditions that amount to a system of managed trade intended to protect U.S. producers and refiners.

This year, the Trump administration pressed Mexico to reopen the last agreement, reached in 2014, and accept more restrictive conditions.

Mexico was forced to make concessions, and yet it fared better than Canada, which was not offered the option of softwood renegotiations and was simply slapped with duties.

Moreover, the U.S. Department of Commerce was willing to resist pressures from U.S. industry, announcing a deal over the opposition of the American Sugar Alliance.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Mexico Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal shake hands in June in Washington after meeting about Mexico sugar exports. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

With Canada it's been a different story. The Department of Commerce took the position of the U.S. lumber coalition almost to the decimal point.

There was a difference in tone too. Announcing the sugar deal with Mexico, Ross said he was "glad all parties have agreed that the new sugar agreement is fair and addresses the shortcomings of the original deal.

"Thank you to our industry partners, as well as our Mexican counterparts, for their hard work," he said. 

The day his department imposed a tariff on Canadian lumber imports, he issued an indignant statement that also referenced a dispute over U.S. dairy exports to Canada:

"This is not our idea of a properly functioning free trade agreement."

The gap between rhetoric and action hasn't gone unnoticed in the U.S. A New York Times headline last week pointed out that "Trump Talks Tough on China and Mexico, but Trade Actions Hit Canada."

What's going on?

Trade experts on both sides of the border have speculated that one reason for aggressive U.S. trade actions against Canada is to create bargaining chips for NAFTA renegotiations.

So, why isn't the U.S. working equally hard to create new bargaining chips with Mexico?

Canadian trade consultant Peter Clark led many Canadian trade negotiations as a public servant and was special trade advisor to the parliamentary committee on implementation of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

He said the answer is simple: The Americans fear Mexico more than Canada.

"They think they can probably get us to react favourably, without the type of retaliation they think they would be sure to get from the Mexicans. The Mexicans have hit and hurt them before, and they would be sure to do it again."

Blake Hurst, a corn and soybean farmer and president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, stands by a corn silo on his farm in Westboro, Mo. (Nati Harnik/Associated Press)

Mexico is the biggest export market for America's top agricultural product: corn. And while Mexico can't unilaterally block U.S. corn imports under NAFTA, it buys its corn in government-supervised block purchases and it is free to buy wherever it wishes.

Already Mexico has increased corn purchases from Argentina and Brazil, causing politicians from the U.S. corn belt, like Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, to warn the Trump administration against any further provocation.

Mexican officials have shown considerable skill in past trade disputes, targeting their trade actions in order to apply pain to particular regions and segments of the U.S. economy they feel are leading the protectionist charge against them.

"It's been pretty clear in our informal discussions with them that they'd do it again," said Clark.

And, he said, Mexican officials also don't hesitate to use issues that have nothing to do with trade to make their points, including threats to abandon co-operation with the U.S. on important issues such as interdicting drugs or stopping the flow of Central American migrants through Mexico to the U.S. border.

"The Mexicans can get pretty extreme," said Clark.

Canadian hardball

Clark's view is that Canada could benefit from ditching its polite and reasonable approach and imitating Mexico's more hard-nosed tactics, targeting the elected officials who are pushing a protectionist agenda.

"There are 25 key supporters of the U.S. Lumber Coalition. I would go after each of those senators, and start to make life miserable for the exporters from their state."

To get around the NAFTA prohibition on open retaliation, Clark suggests following the example of 1980s Liberal trade minister Ed Lumley.

"When Lumley couldn't get anywhere trying to moderate the flow of Japanese cars coming into Canada, he simply ordered customs at Vancouver to inspect the cars one-by-one as they were unloaded."

"There's no specific rules you have to break. You just have to be anally bureaucratic."

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That's one heck of a long string of articles to read Malcolm, but thanks for posting them; collectively they provide a good overall synopsis that tells us where Canada stands and will likely end up.

Like Canada, the EU & GB, America's past and most of its current leadership sold out their middle class populations in support of globalization. However, politics have changed dramatically south of the border and the US now has a President that really does want to stop his Nation's bleeding, but progress in this respect is hampered by standing trade agreements that favour globalization.

Trump clearly intends to restore 'balance' to international trade agreements. If Canada / Freeland hopes to achieve anything going forward, our side will need to 'respect' the current Administrations 'America First' perspective and fashion our own wish list with this in mind.

It's unfortunate for Canada and may damn us in any negotiation, but the Liberal government doesn't seem to give a hoot for the hardworking taxpayer, only every other hands - out interest group, both local and international, which is one heck of a weak platform to bargain from.






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DEFCON: based on the following article, I can see us ending up with exactly nothing.  Oh well.

The art of not getting a deal: Trump tactics seen as way to kill NAFTA
 Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press 
 Published Monday, October 9, 2017 2:33PM EDT  

OTTAWA -- Call it the art of the non-deal.

As the fourth round of talks in the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation begins this week near Washington, a consensus is growing that a series of untenable U.S. bargaining positions is part of simple plan by U.S. President Donald Trump to lay the groundwork so he can walk away from the continental trade pact to please his domestic base.

Some cite a Buy American proposal that would limit Canadian and Mexican access to U.S. procurement projects presented in the third round of talks in Ottawa two weeks ago.

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But more clangers could drop in this upcoming round when the U.S. might wade into another area contentious area: its desire for more access to Canada's protected and supply managed dairy industry.

"I'm becoming more and more of the view that the proposals we're seeing are poison pills," said Dan Ujczo, an Ohio-based international trade lawyer with the firm Dickinson Wright.

"These are proposals that neither Canada nor Mexico can accept."

Ujczo and others say the Buy American proposal was prime example. Simply put, the U.S. wanted to limit the Mexican and Canadian ability to bid on U.S. procurement contracts, while seeking greater access for Americans firms to Mexican and Canadian government projects.

That sticking point comes with other hard issues still on the horizon, including dairy, auto parts, the dispute resolution system and the U.S. push for a review of NAFTA every five years.

"It's going nowhere fast. It's clear. The U.S. has some ridiculous proposals on the table," said Jerry Dias, the head of the Canadian union Unifor.

"You only put those types of proposals on the table if you're not looking really to find a deal."

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland addressed the Buy American issue in Ottawa on the last day of talks two weeks ago, saying the recently-completed Canada-EU free trade deal, which opened up local procurement to both sides, was Canada's preferred option.

"We would like to encourage our immediate neighbours to meet the levels of ambition we have been able to achieve with our partners across the Atlantic."

Peter Clark, an Ottawa-based international trade strategist who was involved in the original NAFTA and Canada-U.S. free trade negotiations, said the American behaviour is a vivid and unprecedented example of how not to negotiate. He called it a tactic designed to ensure failure.

"Negotiators try to deal in the art of the possible," said Clark.

"Trump doesn't believe he can get what he really wants without tearing it up, or terminating it, or giving us notice of termination. That's that way he operates."

Clark predicted Canada can expect plenty more of the same when Round 4 gets underway.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told a trade discussion in Washington last week that the U.S. would likely make a specific request to Canada for more access to its dairy and poultry markets.

The dairy sector was excluded from NAFTA in 1994, but the supply management system, which limits the amount of dairy that can be imported into Canada without high tariffs, has been an ongoing irritant.

Trump cried foul over a subsequent deal outside of NAFTA that allows Canadian dairy producers to sell milk proteins to domestic processors at a discount to protect the industry from imports of cheap U.S. milk ingredients.

The Liberal government has repeatedly vowed to protect supply management and its agriculture sector.

Canada's dairy industry said it has no idea whether U.S. negotiators will actually come to the next round with firm proposals.

There's a "serious risk" of losing NAFTA because of Trump's approach, said Robert Zoellick, the former World Bank president and ex-U.S. Trade Representative under George W. Bush.

Speaking to a NAFTA event in Washington this past week, Zoellick said Canada can't back down on another key demand by Trump to abolish the panels that settle disputes. Zoellick recalled how hard Canada fought for the inclusion of that chapter in the original Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA's precursor.

"The Canadians spilled blood on this to get this done," he said. "It is a very big stretch in my mind to believe that any Canadian government can walk away without a Chapter 19 provision."

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Strong words from Mexico, Little from our PM.

Mexico warns US about ending Nafta trade deal

Ending the North American Trade Agreement (Nafta) would break relations between Mexico and the US, the Mexican foreign minister has warned.

Luis Videgaray was speaking ahead of a new round of trade talks this week between the US, Mexico and Canada.

The talks to update the 1994 deal have become increasingly acrimonious, with Mexico and American business groups saying US proposals would hurt trade.

This week, President Donald Trump repeated threats to scrap the deal.

He has pointed to the trade deficit with Mexico as unfair to the US. His administration has said it was seeking to reduce it and called for a major overhaul of the agreement.

The head of the US Chamber of Commerce, Thomas Donahue, warned that scrapping the deal would endanger $1tr in annual trade.

Mr Videgaray said Mexico was preparing for "different scenarios" the talks might produce and would not remain within the agreement if it was not good for his country.Image copyright Reuters

 Luis Videgaray says his priority is to defend Mexico's interests

He warned that ending the regional trade pact would hurt relations between the US and Mexico and damage their co-operation on other issues such as fighting drug-trafficking and stopping illegal immigration across the US's southern border.

What's at stake with the Nafta talks?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is meeting Mr Trump on Wednesday and their discussions are expected to focus on Nafta. The US has recently slapped duties on Canadian Bombardier airliners and wood exports.

Mr Trudeau then flies to Mexico for discussions with President Enrique Peña Nieto.

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Robotics aside, Trump wants to return manufacturing jobs to America where the vast majority of the market exists; China will be watching closely.


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So where are all the anti-NAFTA protesters now? There seemed to be thousands of them claiming that NAFTA was going to be the worst thing ever for Canada.

I don't hear them cheering the possible demise of the agreement. Could it be that they were wrong then?

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Nafta talks: Trump open to a bilateral Canada-US trade deal

President Trump says if talks to reform Nafta fail, he could envisage a US-Canada trade pact, excluding Mexico.

The US president said if there was no deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement, it would be terminated.

He was speaking at the White House with visiting Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.

Replying to a question, Mr Trump said he said he would consider a trade pact with Canada minus Mexico, adding that both the US and Canada wanted to protect their workers.

The current round of talks on renegotiating the trade bloc is reported to be stalling, with Mexico opposing a US move to increase the percentage of US-made components in car manufacturing.

Mr Trump's stance has however been criticised by US businesses,

And Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray, speaking ahead of the latest round of talks, said terminating Nafta could harm US-Mexico relations and damage co-operation on issues like fighting drug-trafficking.

Mr Trudeau said he believed the Nafta talks could still end in a "win, win, win".

But he said that Canada had to "be ready for anything" if the attempts to modernise the 23-year-old deal faltered.

Overall trade between the three Nafta partners reached $1.1 trillion (£832bn) in 2016.

American and Mexican officials say they want a renegotiated deal by December.

This week the influential US Chamber of Commerce warned it was time to "ring alarm bells" over the Nafta talks.

The business lobby group said there were "several poison pill proposals" put on the table by the US that could tank the renegotiations.

Those include US demands to adjust the rules of origin, which would increase the percentage of the content of car parts and other materials that would come from Nafta countries in order for a good to qualify as duty free - a specific concern for the North American auto industry.

'We disagree vehemently'

The US and Canadian leaders also discussed the Bombardier-Boeing trade dispute.I

Canada and the UK are sparring with the US over Canadian aerospace giant Bombardier.

The Trump administration has imposed hefty duties on Bombardier's C-Series jetliner.

American aerospace firm Boeing claims Bombardier received unfair government subsidies to produce its showcase passenger jet.

Bombardier is a significant employer in Northern Ireland and Canada.

Mr Trudeau said he "highlighted to the president how much we disagree vehemently" on the decision to impose anti-dumping duties.

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  • Calgary Herald
  • 12 Oct 2017
  • STEPHANIE LEVITZ in Washington
getimage.aspx?regionKey=UjCgwifVNbDRgZNN4ca40w%3d%3dCHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY IMAGES Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump meet for talks at the White House on Wednesday. The U.S., Canada and Mexico are engaged in renegotiating the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

For the first time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is acknowledging that the North American Free Trade Agreement could be in trouble. Trudeau wrapped up his visit to Washington on Wednesday by saying that he continues to believe that renegotiating and renewing NAFTA is the best option for all three countries. However, he suggested — repeatedly — that the federal Liberal government is bracing for the worst.

“It is very important and very possible to get a win-win-win ... out of these negotiations,” Trudeau told a news conference on the roof of the Canadian Embassy. “So saying, I think it’s been clear that circumstances are often challenging, and we have to be ready for anything — and we are.

“We’re taking this very seriously and we’re taking the importance of standing up for Canadian jobs and Canadian economic growth very seriously, and that goes (for) every economic engagement we have with the Americans.”

Trudeau wasn’t the only one sounding gloomy on the outcome.

Donald Trump could well decide to cancel NAFTA, Stephen Harper warned Wednesday as the former prime minister ended his public silence on current events by describing anti-trade sentiment in the U.S. as an intractable, long-term problem with no easy fix.

Harper stepped into the role of political analyst during a panel discussion in Washington.

Powerful anti-trade forces that predate Trump’s presidency are at play in American society and aren’t going away anytime soon, said the former Conservative leader, who’s known as an ardent free trader.

He recalled being told by the Bush administration when he took office in 2006 that NAFTA would never have won a vote in the U.S. Congress at the time. He described how Barack Obama campaigned against the deal. He believes trade will remain controversial, whether or not Trump cancels NAFTA, which he thinks could happen.

He said he is advising companies to start planning for the possibility of a world without NAFTA.

“I believe that it is conceivable. I believe Donald Trump would be willing to take the economic and political risk of that under certain circumstances,” Harper said.

“I would not want to simply bet that this is just all going to work out. What’s driving this are some very powerful political currents that, frankly, nobody — including Mr. Trump — has really figured out how to address, and they’re going to keep coming at us.”

During Trudeau’s earlier visit to the White House, the prime minister listened intently as the U.S. president hinted at the possibility of a free trade deal directly with Canada, should the ongoing talks collapse.

But Trump also said it’s too early to give up on the negotiations, which resumed Wednesday in Alexandria, Va., with negotiators from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

“It’s possible we won’t be able to reach a deal with one or the other,” Trump said, a poker-faced Trudeau seated at his side. “In the meantime, we’ll make a deal with one, but I think we have a chance to do something very creative that’s good for Canada, Mexico and the United States.”

It’s no secret that the president is not a fan of NAFTA, but Wednesday’s remarks suggested he’s open to the possibility of a bilateral trade deal with Canada. “We’ll see what happens, we have a tough negotiation.”

It wasn’t clear whether the change in the prime minister’s NAFTA message was a direct result of his meeting with the U.S. president, someone he acknowledged “makes decisions that surprise people sometimes.” But repeating the “ready for anything” sentiment multiple times suggests a conscious decision to acknowledge that the outcome of the talks may not go Canada’s way.

“I continue to believe in NAFTA; I continue to believe that as a continent working together in complementary ways is better for our citizens and better for economic growth, and allows us to compete on a stronger footing with the global economy,” Trudeau said.

There have been early but unmistakable signs of trouble in the talks, with big business groups expressing fear the quarter-century-old deal could disappear.

Earlier Wednesday, Trudeau held discussions with the House of Representatives’ influential Ways and Means committee, one of two bodies of U.S. lawmakers that are helping negotiators put forward the U.S. positions on trade.

He joined the committee to warm applause and expressions of optimism about the deal from both the committee’s Republican chair and the ranking Democrat member.

The committee is dedicated to making sure the negotiations are successful, said Rep. Kevin Brady, the committee chair, who asked for Trudeau’s help in keeping an open mind.

“We all want this agreement to be a model for future trade deals,” Brady said.

The latest round of NAFTA talks kicked off with a discussion of government procurement, already a thorny subject — U.S. negotiators suggested during the last round in Ottawa that they want to limit Canadian and Mexican access to U.S. projects.

From there, discussions are scheduled to move onto developing remedies for trade disputes, as well as the contentious issue of agriculture.

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"The NAFTA thus guarantees that American workers will remain the most competitive in the world and that American consumers will continue to have access to the world's finest goods and services."

Interpreted to mean; American workers, who once made up most of the so-called middle class, would unwittingly give up their lifestyles to the forces of globalization. In return the under / unemployed could expect cheap laundry soap and other crap to flow in from third world producers.

The short sighted populace has been had.





Edited by DEFCON

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I caught an interview last night with a congressman, I believe, who indicated that if Trump thinks he can terminate Nafta, he should read the Constitution. It would require a vote in the house, where many states are quite happy with the deal.

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Here is what MacLeans published on the subject back in August

Can Donald Trump pull the U.S. out of NAFTA all on his own?

Some lawyers say withdrawal without congressional approval would be unconstitutional, but the politics of the play might be another matter

John Geddes

August 28, 2017


Listening to President Donald Trump, or reading his Twitter musings, sure leaves the impression he claims unfettered power to yank the United States clear of the North American Free Trade Agreement whenever he feels like it. “I think we’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point, okay?” Trump said in a rambling late-summer speech in Phoenix. He followed up with this classic Trumpian Tweet: “We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada. Both being very difficult, may have to terminate?”

A superficial reading of NAFTA lends some support to the notion that Trump might have the power to act on his bluster. The deal among Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, which came into force in 1994, does include Article 2205, which lets any of the three countries back out on six-months notice. And, since U.S. presidents have broad power over foreign affairs, that might seem to be Trump’s clause to trigger. Indeed, some trade experts read it that way—but others see it differently.

CHARLESTON, WV - MAY 05: United States Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump models a hard hat in support of the miners during his rally at the Charleston Civic Center on May 5, 2016 in Charleston, West Virginia. Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee following his landslide win in indiana on Tuesday.(Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)

CHARLESTON, WV – MAY 05: United States Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump models a hard hat in support of the miners during his rally at the Charleston Civic Center on May 5, 2016 in Charleston, West Virginia. Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee following his landslide win in indiana on Tuesday.(Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)

For instance, Riyaz Dattu, of the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt in Toronto, says Trump’s problem is that while presidents negotiate trade deals, Congress passes the laws to make them a reality in the U.S. “President Trump would have to get Congress to repeal the [NAFTA] provisions that were written into U.S. law,” Dattu says. He concedes, though, that the potential clash over presidential and congressional clout when it comes to quitting a trade deal is “an area that has not been tested.” Trade and constitutional lawyers on both sides of the border agree that if Trump tried to act unilaterally, a court battle would likely ensue, perhaps ending up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

That assumes, however, sufficient political will among Trump’s foes to fight him over NAFTA. Colin Robertson, a former diplomat with long experience in the U.S., who has analyzed the new NAFTA talks in depth for the Ottawa-based Canadian Global Affairs Institute, predicts Trump would carry the day. “In a practical sense, if he says, ‘I’m pulling the plug,’ I don’t think there will be enough pressure in Congress to question his authority,” he says.

RELATED: NAFTA: What each country wants out of a new deal

Still, Robertson says potent U.S. domestic forces have already pulled Trump back from the brink once when he was close to trying to exit the agreement on his own say-so alone. When his administration was approaching its 100th day in power last April, rumours spread that he was contemplating a hasty NAFTA withdrawal. The U.S. farm lobby weighed in with the White House against that precipitous move, Robertson says, and succeeded. NAFTA supporters hope that if Trump again came close to abrogating, domestic forces would rally once more to persuade him to retreat.

If not, the question of Trump’s unilateral power to turn his anti-NAFTA rhetoric into reality will stop being an intriguing debating point for lawyers, and turn into a matter of massive real-world implications for a continental economy.

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