Is Canada Back?

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Canada is somewhat back: The marginalization of federal foreign policy

By Steve Zhang

Three years ago, during his successful election campaign, Justin Trudeau and his Liberals promised Canada would revisit its commitments to multilateralism and the international order established after the Second World War.

Despite the ambitious rhetoric, Canada is hardly ‘back,’ experts say.

While the Liberals have had some moderate successes re-engaging with old allies and on some key issues – principally the re-negotiated North American trade agreement – Canada’s foreign policy has largely fallen short of its goals.

However, the Liberals cannot be blamed, at least not wholly, for the lack of concrete results in Canadian foreign policy. Nearly a decade of Conservative rule, and Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 election victory have combined to push foreign affairs to the periphery of the national agenda.

As Daryl Copeland writes in “Canada’s back” – can the Trudeau government resuscitate Canadian diplomacy? in the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, Canada was at one time an ‘honest fixer, peaceful broker and pioneering peacekeeper.’

That changed when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives formed government in 2006.

“They basically repudiated pretty much all of the foundations of post-Second World War Canadian foreign policy, (with) the distancing from multilateralism, the infusion of ideology rather than pragmatism,” says Copeland, a former diplomat and fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI).

According to Copeland, one of the biggest things that plagued foreign policy during the Harper administration was a succession of seven foreign ministers who were largely indifferent, and sometimes antagonistic, to the international order.

“Canada went from being known as an engaged, active and helpful kind of presence on the international stage to one which was largely spectral,” Copeland said. “Instead of a country that one would want to have at the table during important international negotiations, we became somewhat of a pariah.”

On certain issues, the Liberals have maintained Conservative policies. Hélène Laverdière, the out-going NDP foreign affairs critic, points out that the Conservatives dropped several African countries from its foreign aid program and the Liberals have yet to restore that aid.

Overall Canadian foreign development aid has fallen to historic lows at 0.26 per cent of gross national income (GNI), and is lower than both the national target of 0.7 per cent, and 0.31 per cent under Harper. Laverdière also asks how a party that claims to champion human rights can continue to support the $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, signed in 2014 by the previous administration, given the kingdom’s poor record on human rights.

“There’s a lot of talk that’s different from the Conservatives, but in their actions, we don’t find it,” she said. “They need to show more leadership on a range of issues that are traditional for Canada, including peacekeeping.”

In the past, Canada was a leading peacekeeping nation. As much as 10 per cent of the peacekeepers – roughly 80,000 personnel – sent on UN missions between 1948 and 1988 were Canadian, and Canada, under Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, is credited with helping create the template for modern peacekeeping.

“It was a key way that Canada was supporting the United Nations. That lesser support for peacekeeping did not start with Harper,” says Peggy Mason, a former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament to the UN, and president of the policy think-tank, the Rideau Institute, “but under Harper, Canada was absolutely hostile to UN peacekeeping.”

Mason says the decline in peacekeeping started when Canada became more involved in NATO-led operations, such as in Yugoslavia, under Jean Chrétien.

Trudeau pledged to resume Canada’s peacekeeping role and bolster its contributions to peacekeeping missions. The original promise was to provide 650 troops, but the actual contribution has been far lower: 250 troops and six helicopters were sent to a UN mission in Mali. It was a contribution that took two years to materialize, and contrasts heavily with contributions of between 1,000 to 4,000 troops deployed from 1990 to 1995, according to figures from Providing for Peacekeepers.

On another major foreign policy issue, climate change, the Trudeau goverment has removed Harper’s restrictions on government scientists allowing them to speak openly about their research. The Liberal government has also signed the Paris Accord on combatting climate change. Harper muzzled scientists with a special media centre to control what information became public, and it was also under his administration that greenhouse gas emissions reached an all-time high in 2007.

Another area where there’s been success is the Canada-US trade portfolio, dominated by the trade renegotiations. At the centre is Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland who is Canada’s lead negotiator with the United States, a daunting prospect given the unanticipated election of Donald Trump as president, who made cutting a new trade deal a priority.

“It’s been very difficult for the government because the attitudes of the Trump administration towards global trade has meant that Canada has really been fighting a defensive battle,” says University of British Columbia political science professor Allen Sens. “Canada has been put in a position of being very reactive, so it hasn’t had the capacity to be proactive in those few areas where it could have been, like the United Nations.”

According to the 2018 Trudeau Report Card by Carleton University, Freeland has aligned herself closely with American interests. As the United States continues to look inward, Canada is destined to be dragged along. The two countries’ fortunes are tied so closely together that trade negotiations has taken attention away from other parts of Freeland’s job. Others have argued that this focus on trade actually represents the government’s commitment to foreign policy.

“This whole negotiation has raised her profile so considerably,” says Norman Hillmer, Chancellor’s Professor of history and international affairs at Carleton University. “There are two kinds of leaders: there are the micromanagers like Harper who wanted to do it all themselves, and then there are those who will delegate and it’s clear that Trudeau has enormous confidence in Chrystia Freeland.”

Hillmer says the trade renegotiations have demonstrated Canada’s ‘internationalist credentials in a very credible way.’ Freeland, he says, is a capable minister who shows Global Affairs Canada has a life of its own, without having to toe the party line, as it did under Harper.

Since 75 per cent of Canada’s exports go to the United States and 40 per cent of its GDP relies on those exports, as former diplomat and vice president of the CGAI Colin Robertson says, it makes sense that all of Freeland’s energy was devoted to one file.

“She knew she had to deliver, so she put her energy not necessarily where she would’ve liked to put it,” says Robertson, “but she knew that was the priority, and that’s ultimately what we expect governments to do: deal with what’s vital.”

For her efforts, Freeland has been named Foreign Policy’s Diplomat of the Year for 2018, and is being lauded for how she handled the trade file. Although Canada, along with Mexico, had to make some concessions in the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, it was able to retain access to US markets, and the U.S. dropped some initial demands, such as asking for 50 per cent of all car imports to be American-made. However, trade is one part of a larger foreign policy file, and all parts must be engaged for foreign affairs to succeed.

“I think we need to put more into pure diplomacy because that matters more than ever, especially with the U.S. taking a vacation under Donald Trump from minding the world order,” says Robertson. “We were the engineers [of the world order] and we’re going to have to step up.”

Canada in Latin America

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Canada’s Latin American trade complications

Despite PM’s push, more deals with region unlikely in the near future

Canada and its Trade Deals

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NAFTA and Dairy

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Eureka! At last, we have a renegotiated NAFTA

Free Market Reflections with Steve Dittmer

While it seems like forever to us, these kinds of diplomatic trade battles usually take several years to settle, not just a little over a year. Of course, President Trump wasn’t around before now, pushing people’s buttons and impatiently demanding results like a business tycoon.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a major point that the agreement meant economic stability and certainty for Canadian businesses and investors. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland had held her ground all along, reminding folks she was after a good deal for Canada.

And she got her most important priority — keeping the dispute resolution procedures in place — and next, getting what is effectively an exemption on any upcoming 25 per cent auto tariffs, getting 2.6 million units duty free, compared to the 1.6 million currently exported.

From a distance, it is hard to say how much damage the dairy sector will have to absorb. I know some folks will say 3.59 per cent is not a big deal but when an industry is fundamentally oversupplied, even a couple per cent is significant. We learned that lesson years ago in the beef industry. The market is much more sensitive when the supply is close to the edge than when demand is out ahead of supply. Apparently, the supply management and subsidies were left intact, so the government will have an easier time figuring out how to compensate producers for their losses.

That supply management and subsidy “problem” is left to another day, likely another government. Your beef industry is much closer to a free market system and so the government control and subsidy for dairymen is a bit foreign to cattlemen. But I ran across an opinion piece from a Canadian before the final agreement that some livestock folks may think still applies.

Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, noted Trudeau’s political problem in executing a dairy deal right before a Quebec election October 1. (Of course, other issues had already determined that election outcome, it’s just no one knew that for sure before October 1.) Robertson told Politico that there were some cracks in the Quebec supply management defense. Some favour the end of supply management and he concurs with the opinion that “Canadian cheese can be world busters” and Canadian dairymen can be competitive with the Aussies and Kiwis. He thinks the adjustment assistance necessary during a transition is “affordable” and that dairy can be just as successful as Canadian “beef, pork, grains and lentils.”

“Mr. Trump may force us to do what we should do,” Robertson concluded.

Now, Canadians will have to decide what, if anything, they want to do and find a new bad guy to force it.

I think your Minister Freeland did a very good job, holding her dispute resolution position, beating back the sunset clause with a pretty clever device and protecting Canada from a 25 per cent auto tariff. Given her toughness and the backing she has apparently gotten from Trudeau, I would guess she will get a good deal on the steel and aluminum tariffs very soon, probably a quota with some headroom.

After all, it is not easy negotiating with the trading partner you sell 75 per cent of your exports to. Especially when that partner realizes its advantage, pushes it and has a booming economy and substantial hubris behind its approach.

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One thing I have learned from my conversations with Canadian friends and trips to your meetings: the fundamental attitude is totally different in an exporting nation versus one dominated by its domestic market. It has been your advantage to have producers who instinctively cut right to the customer’s thinking when structuring their whole industry, versus the American cattlemen’s attitude for many past years that we’ll produce what we want to produce and the domestic market will always be there.

It has also been pointed out that the strengthening of the auto manufacturing model, to require 75 per cent of the content to be made in North America to be duty free and that 40 per cent of it be made by workers making at least $16/hour, helps Canada as well, as some of its auto and parts manufacturing has been lost to Mexico over the years.

Canadians feel President Trump has been too hard on Canada during these negotiations and I can’t blame them. But, when you are trying to tackle the brute running back (China), some other guys are going to get bumped along the way. But deep down, businessmen in both countries are aware of how integrated our businesses and economies are. That kind of pressure undoubtedly played a part in getting this thing done, especially with our mid-term elections so soon.

Oh, I see Canada has been busy with the process of ratifying the TPP agreement— you know, the one without the U.S. in it. Go figure.

Oh, Canada!

USMCA and Congress

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Manitoba Pork Council

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The Canadian Global Affairs Institute suggests the United States remains the biggest unknown as Canada, the US and Mexico move toward ratification and implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the modernised version of NAFTA, is expected to be signed 30 November, at which point the deal will still require passage of legislation in all three countries for its ratification.

Colin Robertson, Vice President and a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, says the agreement won’t be a done deal until it gets through the US Congress.

Mr Robertson says, “My sense is that the earliest the Americans will be in a position to bring forward their legislation will be probably February, March or April and we’ll be dealing with a different Congress.

“There are mid-term elections set for 6 November and that’s for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and for one third of the 100 member Senate.”

Mr Robertson says that this could result in a different configuration within both the House of Representatives and in the Senate.

He says that the Republicans currently have a majority in the House of Representatives and very slim majority in the Senate and it’s an open question as to what will be the results of the election.

He says, “The pundits currently seem to think the Democrats have a fair chance of taking the majority in the House of Representatives but the Senate is still, as they would say in basketball, jump ball so we’re not sure what will happen there.

“That will have implications for the ultimate passage of legislation in the US Congress because, for the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement to take effect, legislation would have to be passed in the three parliaments.”

Mr Robertson notes, in the case of Canada and Mexico, both leaders have majorities so he doesn’t anticipate any problems with passage of the legislation to ratify the agreement in Canada or Mexico.

 

As reported by Bruce Cochrane, Farmscape.Ca

China Card

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So now, in the wake of the USMCA, China wants a trade deal with Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says our country is ready. Improving trade ties with China would go a long way to trade diversification but Canadians should tread carefully.

More engagement with the world’s second biggest economy that is growing at twice the rate of our U.S. and EU partners makes a lot of sense. Economics aside, we have expanding people-to-people ties: the Chinese are our largest group of foreign students; Chinese tourism is up by double digits; and 10 per cent of recent immigrants came from China.

So the question is not about whether to engage, but how best to engage.

Negotiating a full free-trade agreement, says the Public Policy Forum’s useful report, Diversification not Dependence, could take a decade. Last December, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang rejected Prime Minister Trudeau’s overture on a closer economic partnership, dismissing out of hand the gender and aboriginal rights integral to Mr. Trudeau’s progressive trade agenda. The Chinese aren’t open to change, so have we decided to drop the progressive agenda?

The PPF says sectoral agreements are the way to go, starting with agri-food and natural resources, eldercare and pensions coupled with co-operative arrangements on things such as climate. These will build confidence and create momentum for more progress.

This could work although, like the rest of Asia, the Chinese are increasingly skeptical about Canada’s ability to get its goods to market. One new LNG pipeline is not enough.

The Chinese will demand preferred investment access for their state-owned enterprises (SOEs). They feel that the current regime, imposed by the Harper government in 2012, is unfair. Are we prepared to relax our rules?

There is a third option – encourage China to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). It already covers things such as SOEs, labour and environmental standards, intellectual property rights, and includes enforceable dispute settlement. The CPTPP should become the benchmark pact for the Indo-Pacific. China’s own model – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – does not meet the CPTPP standard.

But all of this may come to naught. Like it or not, Canada is now caught in the Sino-U.S. confrontation, of which the USMCA “China clause” is the latest manifestation. While we are nowhere near negotiations with China, consulting with our principal trade partners would seem sensible.

The sense that Chinese behaviour is predatory and posing significant threats to the U.S. that need to be countered is driving current U.S. policy. The Donald Trump approach – threats, bombast and tariffs – is antagonizing China and prompting retaliation. We will need to be careful that we don’t become collateral damage.

China’s leadership wants to reform global governance to reflect China’s superpower stature. But China only pays lip service to the rules-based international order. Its mercantilist behaviour, ranging from subsidized to forced technology transfers, has contributed mightily to the looming Sino-U.S. trade war. Its cyberintrusions – for espionage and commercial gain – are detailed in our intelligence agencies’ annual reporting. While the Trump administration’s method is obnoxious, the EU, Japan and North America need to defend our rules-based system.

China has not developed politically, economically or diplomatically in ways that the West had thought it might. But projecting hopes and wishful thinking on China goes further back than this current moment. In his latest book, Daniel Kurtz-Phelan describes U.S. General George Marshall’s unsuccessful efforts to steer China toward liberal democracy in the aftermath of the Second World War. The China Mission is a must-read for foreign-policy makers practising diplomacy in Asia.

The Prime Minister meets the premiers this fall to talk trade diversification. Thrashing through a China strategy is essential. What is it we really want? What are we prepared to give up?

We need to engage in continued relationship building through ministerial visits and through the kind of Track Two discussions organized by the University of Alberta’s China Institute.

It would help if the federal Conservatives are part of the consensus. No one expects lock-step agreement, but a general alignment on our objectives – as we witnessed during the USMCA negotiations – serves the national interest. It also ensures continuity when governments change.

Beyond the obvious trade benefits, better relations with China make sense for Canada. But decisions on China should only be made after we have done our homework and with our eyes wide open.

Norms break down

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Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery; Pompeo en route

Turkish police officers gather as they prepare to enter the Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in Istanbul, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

James McCarten, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, October 15, 2018 6:20PM EDT 

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump appeared to be taking Saudi Arabia at its word Monday as he described how King Salman “firmly” and “strongly” issued a “flat denial” that he or his crown prince had any knowledge of or role in the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

In describing his morning phone conversation with the king, the U.S. president repeatedly emphasized the strenuous nature of the ruler’s denials – even as he confirmed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national and Washington Post columnist, who vanished inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi – a “Saudi Arabian citizen,” Trump noted, although he lived in the U.S. – was last seen entering the consulate two weeks ago. Turkish officials have said they have audio recordings that prove the journalist, a known critic of the Saudi regime, was killed inside, his body dismembered for easy disposal.

“The king firmly denied any knowledge of it,” Trump said. “He didn’t really know – maybe, I don’t really want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers, who knows. We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon. But his was a flat denial.”

Turkish and Saudi investigators began Monday what Turkish officials call a joint “inspection” of the consulate – but not before a cleaning crew walked in armed with mops, trash bags and cartons of milk, said to be good for removing bloodstains.

American lawmakers have threatened tough punitive action against the Saudis, and Germany, France and Britain have jointly called for a “credible investigation” into Khashoggi’s disappearance. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted a link to that statement Sunday, adding, “Canada strongly supports our allies on this important issue.”

Freeland said she spoke Monday with Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir, and remains in close contact with her U.S., German and British counterparts as the global community awaits more answers.

“Canada and our government has a strong record of standing up for human rights around the world, very much including in Saudi Arabia, and we’re going to continue to do that,” she said outside the House of Commons.

“It’s important to establish clear facts about what has happened, and it’s important for the international community to be clear that those facts need to be established in a clear and transparent manner.”

Turkish officials allege a Saudi hit team that flew into and out of Turkey on Oct. 2 killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who had written Washington Post columns that were critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS. The kingdom has called such allegations “baseless” but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.

If the allegations prove true, experts fear it would be just one more example of autocratic rulers feeling emboldened by the slow disintegration of the international world order, thanks in large part to a White House that’s willing to look the other way.

“I do think the norms have eroded and the guardrails (have) come down under Donald Trump,” said Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat and foreign policy expert who serves as vice-president and fellow at the Calgary-based Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Robertson cited the brazen poisoning in March of Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia, an attack attributed to but denied by the Russian government, as just one instance of international malfeasance that seems to be filling the breach left by a lack of strong U.S. foreign policy.

“Autocrats are taking liberties – Skripal, drug hit squads, poison gas, trolls and bots and fake news, prison without trial. They believe they can get away with it because for the new sheriff it’s ‘America First,’ full stop.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested Monday that Canada won’t shy away from taking up the cause.

“Canada will always be very firm … about standing up for human rights all around the world because Canadians expect it of our government,” Trudeau said in an interview as part of the Fortune Global Forum in Toronto.

“But the world also expects it of Canada – to be the clear voice saying, ‘You know what, this is right,’ or ‘This is wrong and you need to do better.’ And we don’t take kindly … to having people try (to) punish us for believing what we say.”

That appeared to be a direct reference to Saudi Arabia, which lashed out at Canada – recalling its ambassador, freezing trade, pulling students out of Canadian schools and even cancelling flights to Toronto – after a tweet from Freeland calling for the immediate release of detained activists, including Samar Badawi, a champion of women’s rights and the sister of detained blogger Raif Badawi.

The kingdom flexed its rhetorical muscles Sunday, saying that if it “receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy.”

In the U.S., the Post has been publishing full-page ads in its front section in an effort to keep the pressure up.

“On Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 1:14 p.m. Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul,” reads the ad, which features an ominous-looking depiction of the consulate’s imposing double doors, adorned with the twin swords of the kingdom’s emblem.

“He has not been seen since. Demand answers.”

International business leaders have also been bailing en masse out of the kingdom’s glittering big-ticket investment forum, the Future Investment Initiative, including the CEO of Uber, billionaire Richard Branson, JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon and Ford executive chairman Bill Ford.

Working the USA under Trump

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A German breakdance troupe, the Flying Bach, recently performed in front of the Lincoln Memorial. (Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany)

October 7 at 10:00 AM

President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel don’t seem to like each other much, as he has disparaged her policies and leadership.But German breakdancers on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial may have reminded Americans that their countries are “Wunderbar Together,” the theme of a year’s worth of events.

Last year, Trump abruptly hung up on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after an immigration dispute. But the Australian Embassy shrugs it off as just a blip as it celebrates “100 years of Mateship” this year, harking back to World War I battlefields where troops from the two nations fought and died beside one another.

And never mind the insults Trump has lobbed at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Canada has dispatched members of Parliament and the cabinet on hundreds of trips south to find common cause with U.S. governors, state legislators and mayors on issues such as trade and climate change.

Long-standing allies whose leaders have had sometimes testy relations with Trump are increasingly keeping U.S. ties alive in ways that bypass the White House.

Faced with Trump’s volatility, a foreign policy that is constantly changing, and many vacancies in the State Department and other traditional venues for communication, some governments are employing what diplomats call the “doughnut strategy.”

“What many, many foreign governments are doing is trying to find ways to get around the problem,” said Nancy McEldowney, a former director of the Foreign Service Institute, which trains U.S. diplomats, and now a professor at Georgetown University. “When you have a problem in the middle, you work around it by building out a network that encircles the problem.”

The efforts to contact local and state governments, business leaders and civil society reflect the conviction that the United States is still an influential player in the world. So even countries that hoped to lie low until a new administration is in place have concluded that they can’t afford to do that. Some are already gaming scenarios for how to deal with a second Trump term.

In the meantime, some countries are making creative connections with Americans, far from the traditional halls of power in Washington. Germany is focusing on culture and heritage in its Wunderbar Together campaign, with a database for an estimated 50 million Americans who can trace their lineage to Germany. It is holding 1,000 events in every region of the United States in the next year, commemorating the 30th anniversary of German reunification. Last week, a German breakdance troupe, the Flying Bach, performed in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

German officials swatted aside questions about whether it has anything to do with the Trump administration, saying it is just the latest in a string of countries where they have held Wunderbar Together celebrations. But before he left Bonn for Washington last week, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas acknowledged the differences between the two governments’ views on the Iran nuclear deal, climate change, trade and NATO military spending.

“Things that used to be taken for granted are no longer that way; they must be worked on,” he said.

Canada is taking a less public approach, enlisting cabinet members and business executives to make official visits to the United States.

“There’s no question we are upping our game since things became uncertain in our priority areas, like trade relations,” a Canadian official said of the uptick in official visits. “They are capable of engaging with the administration and Congress on our behalf.”

Early in the Trudeau-Trump relationship, Canada had tried a charm offensive stressing the importance of the connection, said Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center. But that proved insufficient during NAFTA negotiations and, ultimately, tariffs that Trump imposed in the name of national security.

Invoking national security deeply offended many people in a country that helped U.S. diplomats escape from Iran in 1979, welcomed passengers grounded in Newfoundland after the 2001 terrorist attacks and sent troops to Afghanistan.

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat posted in Washington, said Canada has come to realize that it is not enough to train diplomacy only on the White House and Congress.

“The Trump administration is changing the game,” said Robertson, who now studies U.S.-Canadian relations at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. “There’s a growing recognition we have to play the American system the way it was designed, with checks and balances, a separation of powers. Not just at the congressional level, but the role governors and state legislators play.”

Some countries are bringing forth a heavy dose of nostalgia.

Australia has largely escaped Trump’s ire since his hang-up call with Turnbull.

“Perhaps most crucially, the government has gone into overdrive trying to educate Trump on the history of shared military sacrifice over the last 100 years,” said James Curran, who teaches history and foreign policy at the University of Sydney.

Australia’s “100 Years of Mateship” is rooted in the centennial of the Battle of Hamel, a French town where U.S. and Australian soldiers fought along the Western Front. The idea of the Australian ambassador in Washington, the campaign came with a TV documentary, badges, stickers, posters and even a “mate ale” brewed in Texas.

“It is as if the government here thinks that the more it reminds the U.S. of how much we’ve been there for them on the battlefield, then they will surely come to help us in the event of a future military crisis,” Curran said. “But I wonder: Is anybody there in the White House or State Department really listening to these Australian clarion calls about ‘mateship’? After all, there is the old saying that ‘when you are living and working in Washington, you need to have very good peripheral vision to see Australia.’ That surely is intensified in Trump’s Washington.”

As foreign governments seek to get Americans to reflect on decades of friendship and mutual values, the historical reminiscences and cultural events represent a role reversal. A decade ago, U.S. diplomats worried that a new generation of Europeans did not appreciate how the United States had come to the continent’s aid during World War II and the Cold War.

“Now the tables are turned,” McEldowney said. “We have the Europeans concerned not only that the American public does not value them, but even the American president does not value them. No matter how awful it is, we still need each other and we need to recognize that.”

USMCA Improvements

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USMCA expected to improve investor confidence in Canada

  • Corwyn Friesen, mySteinbach
  • Posted on 10/05/2018 at 9:05 am

The Vice-President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute is confident a new trilateral North American trade agreement will help bolster investor confidence in Canada.

Canada, the United States and Mexico have successfully concluded negotiations aimed at creating a United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade.

Colin Robertson, the Vice-President and a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, says from Canada and Mexico’s perspective it ensures preferred access to the largest market in the world and, for the United States, it illustrates to the world that, even with Donald Trump as President, they actually can do trade deals.

From a Canadian and Mexican perspective, it lifts the uncertainty about investment in Canada both by Canadians and by foreigners who look at Canada as an attractive destination. We’ve got a highly educated work force, we have energy, we’ve got capacity but if we don’t have access to the biggest market in the world they begin to think, why do we not we situate in the United States instead of in Canada.

But I think now that Canada has maintained and preserved its access to the United States as well as now having better access to the Pacific because of our membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership and to Europe through the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement that puts Canada in, I think, a quite enviable position.

Importantly for North America it once again means that North America can operate as a kind of platform, particularly in manufacturing. And we’ve made improvements. There are chapters now on the environment and labour and that introduces a kind of progressive element. And we’ve added a chapter on digital commerce, something that was in both the European and the Pacific agreements but was missing from the former NAFTA.

~ Colin Robertson, Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Robertson notes the USMCA will run for a minimum of six years and it can be renewed twice so it can go to 18 years with revisions as we go along which provides and added measure of stability.

USMCA not done yet

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A proposed deal – not NAFTA 2.0 but, in deference to U.S. President Donald Trump who initiated this 13-month odyssey, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Judging by the market reaction, the USMCA should be good enough to thaw the chill shared by investors, both Canadian and foreign, since the negotiations began. We are not out of the woods – congressional approval of the necessary implementation legislation is no slam dunk and there is still the threat of further Trumpian protectionism, whether direct or through collateral damage.

The dairy lobby is aggrieved but they dodged a bullet. Supply management, a protectionist system badly in need of reform, is preserved. We gave the Americans about half-a-percentage more of the market than they would have received had Mr. Trump not pulled out of the Obama-initiated Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Even with the additional quota negotiated for the EU in the Canada-EU trade pact (CETA), more than 90 per cent of our dairy market is still protected for Canadian producers. It is also a sure bet that the federal and provincial governments will open their wallets to provide adjustment assistance to the afflicted, although for taxpayers’ sake there must be demonstrable proof of injury. There is no reason why our dairy farmers cannot become as successful internationally as our beef and pork, grains and pulse producers, especially given the growing appetite for protein in the Indo-Pacific.

The dairy lobby’s cry of pain is reminiscent of that heard from vintners after the Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement (FTA) of 1988 opened up their market. Today their products are both very drinkable and sell more than ever before. The tentative new agreement means that U.S. wines will now share shelf space on British Columbians’ shelves with B.C. wines, but B.C. protectionism is the kind of non-tariff barrier that we rail against in other markets. Redress was overdue and it reminds us that, when it comes to protectionism, no nation has clean hands.

Canadian auto manufacturers have cause for celebration. It appears we have evaded Mr. Trump’s threatened 25-per-cent tariff and, even if trade is slightly more managed, the new rules of origin and the wage component could well create more opportunities, especially for Canada’s highly competitive parts manufacturers – our real niche in the global auto trade.

There is the potential for slight cost increases in pharmaceuticals with the extension of patent protection but provincial administrators are now very skilled at using their cartel power to get the best price from drug manufacturers. E-commerce shoppers can celebrate because purchases under $150 will now pass much more freely and our customs inspectors can focus on bigger game, including keeping counterfeits out of North America.

Our negotiators deserve a glass of sparkling wine (Canadian) but the USMCA is far from being a done deal. While majority governments in Canada and Mexico will be able to secure legislative implementation, passage in the next U.S. Congress is no sure thing.

We need to continue the advocacy campaign into the regions and within the Washington beltwayMost Americans still have no idea that their main export market is Canada and that jobs and prosperity depend on mutually beneficial trade and commerce. More than 300 Team Canada outreach missions made contact with more than 300 members of Congress, 60 governors or lieutenants-governor and most of the Trump cabinet. To protect Canadian interests this must become a permanent campaign.

 The premiers and provincial legislators must continue to play a critical role in reaching out to their counterparts and this should be a main discussion topic at the upcoming first-ministers meeting on trade. We need to increase our presence in the U.S. – a representative in every state should be our goal. Here again, the premiers can help through establishing offices in the states that matter most to them. Ontario is the province most dependent on the U.S. market. Instead of seeking federal handouts, Premier Doug Ford could learn from Quebec. La belle province has long had representatives in U.S. states. These representatives complement the work of our consulates.

Our dependence on the U.S. market – 75 per cent of our trade goes south – was used as leverage by Mr. Trump since only 18 per cent of U.S. exports head north. It is another reminder that we really do need to invest in trade diversification. We have deals with the European Union and with key Pacific partners, most notably Japan. How to realize opportunities opened by these agreements must be another discussion at the first-ministers conference. As with our permanent U.S. campaign, trade diversification must be a Team Canada effort.