On Friday Donald Trump tweeted out:
“Deal with Mexico is coming along nicely. Auto Workers and farmers must be taken care of or there will be no deal. New President of Mexico has been an absolute gentleman. Canada must wait. Their Tariffs and Trade Barriers are far too high. Will tax cars if we can’t make a deal!”
It is hard and sometimes near impossible to decode the President’s twitter account. However, this tweet should have people in the Canadian auto industry worried.
Although it is unclear what “Will tax cars if we can’t make deal!” means specifically, since most Canadian and American cars are assembled through a hybrid of Mexican, American and Canadian labour, due to our free trade agreements. However, whatever it means, it will not be good for Canada if it happens.
At this point, this is standard diplomacy from the Trump administration. The president starts negotiations with a blustering twitter storm promising unilateral cooperation and free trade, mixed with tariffs and rhetoric of country X screwing American through “bad deals”. Furthermore, when he meets with leaders it is a usually a friendly chat contingent on a minor tariff reductions, leaders then shake hands, take a picture and go home with a slightly better deal on one or two specific aspects of the economy and a “trade war” is avoided.
We’ve all seen this dance play itself out, and world leaders are wising up to the game. Not Justin Trudeau and Canada though, we are taking a stand. Which is why the Canadian response should have people even more worried, when stating that “Our focus is unchanged. We’ll keep standing up for Canadian interests as we work toward a modernized trilateral NAFTA agreement.”
Our relations with our closest trading partner and ally are the worst they have been in my lifetime and our leaders seem intent on doubling down on every misguided stance that got us here. While Trump likes talking about his love for the auto workers and farmers, Justin Trudeau expresses his love for “a gender-based analysis” and other ideological nonsense. Needless to say, our priorities are very far apart.
Here is the rub. Even the Far-left president of Mexico knows how to smile and put on a good face for the sake of his countrymen. Mexico being a country that Donald Trump had spent a few years publicly berating for their failure to stop illegal immigration into the United States. Yet, when it came down to it Andrés Manuel López Obrador put aside his personal feelings and ideologies and went to bat for the Mexican People.
Even as Canada’s position on the world stage crumbles under the weight of the Prime Minister’s ideological platitudes and hapless meandering, we have yet to see any definitive action from his administration.
Justin Trudeau is weak on the world stage, and dangerously weak. His consistent push to court the Muslim world through mosque visits, attending Islamist conferences and even bragging about his Wahabi ties in the 2015 election have not translated to good relations with Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia hit Canada with all its might after our human rights stand on Raif Badawi and other activists.
In the wake of the blow back, our Prime Minister did nothing, neither doubling down on human rights and hitting back nor apologizing and normalizing relations. Trudeau’s inaction here let the gulf states and the rest of the Arab world, along with Pakistan, side openly with the Saudis, since there is almost no fear of a Canadian retaliation. It seems that the Prime Minister’s fantasy of the Muslim world through sock-based diplomacy has not been effective as he anticipated.
Canada is a country that has historically drawn its strength from its allies and currently has no major allies. Not even the left-leaning EU will back Canada openly in its current fight with Saudi Arabia over a pretty standard human rights violation.
To make matters worse, our most important ally, the United States, is hammering us publicly at a time that we need them most. We need America’s support desperately, however, it looks like the price for that friendship is Justin Trudeau’s ideological platitudes, a price our government doesn’t look to be willing to pay.