Listen Up! Recently Trudeau has made some courageous decisions that are not without serious risk

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Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

David and Goliath

There are times when partisanship must be set aside. Anyone with the barest interest in politics has partisan views. It can’t be helped. It is part of the political process and an essential ingredient in a true democracy. But that is no excuse for blind compliance. No political party is perfect and no political philosophy provides all of the answers.

Most people who read this column know that I come from a Conservative perspective, much more of a red Tory than a right-wing extremist, but a Conservative nevertheless. Fundamentally, I believe in less government and controlled public debt. That is just who I am. But I would like to think that I am also the type of individual who is not afraid to step out of his partisan comfort zone when it is the right thing to do. In that context, and I am sure to the chagrin of some of my Conservative friends and with apologies to Mark Antony, I am writing this column to praise Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, not to bury him.

During the past few weeks, Justin Trudeau has made a number of decisions that took courage and are not without serious risk. The first was his decision to nationalize the Kinder Morgan pipeline in Western Canada. I am not generally in favour of nationalizing private assets but this time it was necessary. Whether we like it or not, oil is a resource that Canada has in abundance. It is an important part of our economy and, especially at a time of real tension in relation to trade issues with the United States, it is important to get our products to international markets.

When it comes to oil, a pipeline to the West Coast is essential in this regard. Trudeau’s decision to take over the Kinder Morgan pipeline, at least until it is built, was in the national interest of Canada. It will cost him votes in British Columbia and it will ignite a debate on Provincial jurisdiction, but it was the right thing to do.

At the end of May, President Donald Trump placed $16.5 billion of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum going into the United States. The Canadian Government was ready for this and reciprocated with an equal amount of tariffs on American products, strategically placed in a manner that would affect the political turf of key members of Congress. At the time, Trudeau stated that Trump’s declaration that Canada was a threat to the national security of the United States, a finding Trump was required to make by international law in order to impose the tariffs, was insulting to Canadians. He was right of course and Trump’s response that Canadians had burned down the White House during the War of 1812 was both inaccurate and laughable, if not extremely sad.

Fast forward now to the G7 Summit that took place in Quebec this weekend. It started out well enough. Trump actually showed up, stayed for most of it and pretty well behaved. That is until he got on his plane and someone gave him back his iPhone.

At the conclusion of the G7 Summit, after announcing the communiqué that at that point all members including the United States had agreed to, Trudeau was asked by a reporter if any progress had been made on the issue of tariffs. The Prime Minister responded exactly as he had responded at the end of May and as he had directly communicated to the President.  He said that if the American tariffs held, the Canadian tariffs would come into effect at the end of June. He pointed out that Canadians are polite and reasonable but we will not be pushed around. There was nothing the Prime Minister said in that scrum that President Trump was not aware of when he arrived at the Summit meeting of G7 leaders in Quebec.

True to form, however, Donald Trump took the coward’s way out and waited until he was safely ensconced in his bully pulpit, high in the sky, to torpedo the G7 Summit and to trash our Prime Minister. He called Trudeau weak and dishonest and said: “I have instructed our U.S. representatives not to endorse the communiqué as we look at tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. market.” Typical Trump; he had to make it all about him, his threats and his power.

The Trudeau government has spent months in the back halls of diplomacy trying to negotiate a fair and reasonable trade deal with the United States. It has not worked and Justin Trudeau has recognized that it is time for plain talk. He is right to say that Canada has been insulted and will not be pushed around and he is right to indicate that in a trade war initiated by Donald Trump, Canada will not sit around with its thumb in its mouth.

If the NAFTA talks break down, as they now may, it is not the end of the world. Canada is rich with natural resources and talented citizens. We have the ability to negotiate strong trading relationships around the world to mitigate the effect of Trump’s Trade War. As former Prime Minister Paul Martin recently said, it will hurt in the short run, but even with the United States the current issues will improve with time. Trump’s isolationist policies, his trade wars, and his disrespect for America’s allies will eventually hit the pocketbooks and economic well-being of Americans and they will act accordingly.

In the meantime, Canada must not be held hostage by a coward and a bully who cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction, whose word cannot be trusted, and who shows blatant disrespect to this country. Trump can play with his friends in Russia and North Korea while Canada plays with their friends in the rest of the world.

Justin Trudeau may be David to Trump’s Goliath but he is standing up for Canada. I am with him there.

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37 Comments

    • With all due respect, Hugh, Trudeau was doing a bit of grandstanding (next year is an election year after all). The White House Trade advisor, Peter Navarro, was furious with Trudeau over what Navarro saw as a “stab in the back” to negotiators who have been working diligently, for months, to iron out trade disputes.

      Canada has enjoyed large trade surpluses with the United States for many years and cannot expect to win any trade wars with the U.S. and Trudeau knows that well. There is probably a lot more going on behind the scenes–there is certainly a lot of posturing going on publicly. Under those circumstances, there is usually deal-making going on away from the glare of publicity and leaky trade representatives. This bears all the marks of political theatre.

      • Len Macdonald on

        I don’t know where you get your information, Erin, but even the “Office of the United States Trade Representative” refutes Trump’s claims of a trade deficit with Canada.

        This U.S. government agency reported that the U.S. trade surplus was $ 12.5 Billion in 2016. What is going on “behind the scenes” is a lot of the usual fake news from the White House.

        • Yes, recently, there have been worrisome trends of having trade deficits with the U.S. But that doesn’t take away from the many years of trade surpluses that Canada has had with the U.S. Trump has already admitted that Trudeau convinced him that Canada does not have trade surpluses with the U.S. Trump merely noted that there are “trade irritants” (softwood lumber and Canadian taxation of U.S. dairy are just two of them) of course and trade representatives continue to work on them. It was a friendly exchange between Trump and Trudeau. I continue to think that Trudeau was grandstanding for domestic political points.

      • Mary-Joan Hale on

        Did you watch the News Conference before Trump’s bluster? I did. It was a typical post-conference announcement of the communique agreed to by all seven countries. The PM was answering a query about the tariffs that had been announced since the US first imposed his. Nothing different. Trump’s handlers said he has to appear tough in Singapore, so that is the reason for this name-Calling nonsense.
        I have been boycotting US goods since the US election.

  1. I watched the entire closing press conference and I think Trudeau’s timing and choice of words was terrible. I think it was Justin who is the coward as he waited until Trump had left. The trade deal is not a done deal, both countries are still working on it and Trudeau insults Trump like this? Trudeau could have been firm and positive and chosen much better words to communicate the same message.

    • Len Macdonald on

      Trudeau has been consistent in his comments regarding trade with the USA. He has told Trump, to his face, and he has told the Canadian and American publics exactly what he plans to do about American tariffs against our country. Trudeau said nothing at the closing press conference that he hasn’t said before – he didn’t “wait until Trump left.” That is the FOX- NEWS interpretation, based on the usual White House BS, of what happened.

      As his father said, upon learning what Richard Nixon said privately about him – “I’ve been called worse things by better people.”

    • Good points, Britt. These trade negotiations are sensitive and giving the President (who has a lot of power over trade deals) a blast after he left was bad form and ill-advised.

  2. Donald would rather spend time with his short Commie ” friends ” in North Korea and Russia than
    U.S. allies and trading partners.Trump B.S. is farcial !
    Wonder what a Harper / Trump narrative would have been ?

  3. Pam MacKenzie on

    Well said. I could not agree with you more. Trudeau did not say anything he has not said all along.

  4. I am not impressed with Trudeaus’ performance at all.
    He destroyed the possible alternatives to getting Alberta oil to tide water with his tanker ban and alowed the Northern Gateway pipeline to get fatally kicked around otherwise until it sank, then by changing the National Energy Board’s mandate to include a stew of social licence BS including down stream and upstream carbon considerations he caused the Energy East pipeline to fail as well. All these ideologically driven activities designed to destroy the oil sands plain and simple.
    Having done all that he then pleads that he had no choice but to use federal taxpayers dollars to buy Kinder Morgan’s pipeline (yet to be built).
    Kinder Morgan asked for a dependable situation in which to build their Federal approved project. All they wanted was enforcement of the law and protection from harassment. Trudeau could have demanded that the laws of the land be enforced and the RCMP and if necessary the army be enjoyed to do so. But of course this wouldn’t have been sunny ways. Instead of haven’t some backbone Trudeau uses billions of Federal money to solve his problem. Still billions more will be required to build the pipeline. It all should have been done simply by enforcing the law (not sunny ways).
    So let’s get real and call a spade a spade. Sorry Hugh, I do not share your inclination to give Justin a pass in this matter. Certainly no praise.
    Where Trump is concerned Trudeau should have kept his mouth shut and let Trump play his games which is his style. Why pick a fight with a bully. Ignore him and he will come around.
    IMHO.
    Jim Boyes

    • Len Macdonald on

      “Why pick a fight with a bully. Ignore him and he will come around.” Really? That approach didn’t work out so well for Poland in 1939, or more recently, for Ukraine in 2014.
      Canadian leaders, of all political persuasions (including the Opposition) have condemned Trump’s petty and puerile Tweets and praised Trudeau for standing up to the “bully.”

      “We are polite. But we will not be pushed around” Trudeau stated at the G-7 Summit. Would anyone want our Prime Minister to do anything less with that bully, over an issue of such importance to our country? And this, after a year of careful and thoughtful discussions and negotiations with the American government. Enough is enough. Time to take on the bully.

      • Comparing Trump to Hitler (or even Putin) is ridiculous, Len. It is trade we’re talking about–not a military excursion! You are buying into the hysterical ranting of the leftist media who love to depict Trump as a “bully”. Obama and his predecessors voiced similar rhetoric and yet, they were somehow excused. It is part of the left’s attempt to destroy Trump’s presidency. All part of the globalist plan to destroy anyone who stands up to their plans.

        • Len Macdonald on

          Definition of “bully” – “persecutor, tough, oppressor, tormentor, bully boy, browbeater, coercer, ruffian, intimidator” – “a person who hurts, persecutes, or intimidates weaker people.” – Collins Canadian English Dictionary Does this sound like anyone we know?

          • From your definition, I would say that the mainstream media and the entertainment elites are the bullies. They picked on Trump’s ten-year-old son and his wife for gosh sakes. They say the most vile things about them. They “hoped” that Eric Trump’s wife would miscarry when she was expecting their son. On and on it goes. The hatred of Trump and his family by the entertainment-media-complex is completely deranged.

      • Len, the only way to improve the Canadian economy (or any economy) is for us to export more than we import. It is the only item that improves our balance of payments by any significant degree. Our situation as you know is exaggerated by our trading neighbor that is 10X our size. US imports mean everything to our prosperity. There is nothing more important than a trade surplus to any economy and Trudeau chirps off those remarks after Trump and Kudlow leave? What was he thinking. It was a huge strategic error. We don’t have any bargaining power. Canada is just not that important to the US economy.

  5. Terry McCaffery on

    I do not believe that Justin Trudeau was grandstanding or trying to pick a fight with Donald Trump. He simply stated that Canada would not be pushed around by the US over trade issues! In March of this year, Donald Trump was caught on tape stating that he argued with Trudeau over trade imbalance and that he(Trump) was citing figures he had just made up in his head. I don’t think Trudeau or anyone else thought that Trump’s reaction would be so volatile! Larry Kudlow stated on CNN yesterday morning that the president’s tweets were all posturing to demonstrate to Kim Jong Un that Trump is a tough negotiator! No one can state definitely that Canada has a trade surplus or deficit with the US: go on line and read the many interpretations by both US and Canadian government sources. Incidentally, Huffpost has a great on-line article comparing the dairy industry in Canada to that of the US. In 2015 the US subsidized their dairy industry to the tune of 22 billion dollars! In my opinion Trudeau was standing up for Canada against a bullying US president! Andrew Scheer, Jagmeet Singh and Premier Doug Ford all agreed with the PM’s stance!

    • In any case, I will not be buying any U.S. dairy products–if I can help it. They use rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) on their cows down there. It is outlawed here. Using rBGH results in very sick cows and the stuff ends up in milk along with cow udder pus (ugh!) and other undesirable substances. Be aware that some Canadian ice cream manufacturers use powdered milk from the U.S. in their ice cream. If you buy ice cream (and other dairy products) that tell you only Canadian milk was used that is your assurance that it does not contain junky American milk. Better yet, buy organic milk products–they cost double what ordinary milk products cost but adults shouldn’t be eating lots of cow’s milk products for a lot of reasons too numerous to go into here.

  6. Dave Stewart on

    I totally agree with Jim Boyes. Trudeau painted himself into a corner by killing the other pipeline options. Energy East was a no-brainer that should have been sold by Trudeau to Quebec.
    Post G7 press conference needed to highlight the $3.5 Billion for girls’ education. And something along the lines of “We are working on trade issues, and hope to resolve our differences……..and we wish Trump well in his negotiations with N. Korea.” ” We will not be pushed around….” is like waving a red flag in front of Trump. After a year of NAFTA talks , why are we ” getting close to flexibility on dairy ” . Offer an additional 5% on our dairy market tariff free…..or reduce tariffs to 100% from 300% and promise further reductions over the next 10 years. Trump needs a “WIN” to sell to his voters.

  7. Karen Wehrstein on

    It was actually illegal for Trump to claim the anti-Canadian tariffs were for national security reasons, and sure enough he later revealed it had nothing to do with national security but was about our dairy industry. (Possibly this is why Kellyanne Conway referred to him as the “Commander of Cheese” in a recent interview.) So it was a lie even for him to claim it. There are actual rules that lay out what defines a national security threat to the United States, and not a single one describes anything Canada is doing. His citing of the War of 1812 as the reason at least slaked, for a few hours, the Twittersphere’s ceaseless hunger for comedy material.
    .
    I am not sure what can be done about this illegality; probably it’s a matter of congressional oversight, and since the Republican Party controls Congress it will probably look the other way as it does with other illegalities Trump has committed. There’s a lawsuit proceeding by a watchdog organization against him for violating the emoluments clause (basically forbidding personal gain from the position of president) but they’re inside the same country. I’m not sure we can sue across the border.
    .
    Very well-said, Hugh. I don’t agree with Trudeau on everything either, but when we are attacked by a foreign power with slanders and dollars, it is incumbent on us to drop partisanship and close ranks. Trudeau is representing us well saying we are polite and reasonable but won’t be pushed around, because that’s exactly who we are. It’s what any self-respecting Canadian citizen would say to a bully who has taken control of a country that is, in normal times, a friend and ally. As Trudeau said, our soldiers fought and died alongside those of the USA. It’s a shame some commenters here are maintaining partisanship instead, and in one case (Erin Jones) even siding with the bully and betrayer with mention of anti-semitic talking points (see here: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/15/us/politics/globalism-right-trump.html ). Not very Canadian! The big winner of the G7 was Putin and Russia, because weakening the European/American alliance opens the way for Putin’s ambitions to control Europe.

    • Agreed, Karen, as always. It’s nice to scroll through all the comments until I find yours (where some moderation and common sense will reside). Mr. Trump has turned The White House into the largest temp agency in America. He had to fire his top security advisor for meeting (at least twice) with Russia’s top security advisor; before the election. After asking the FBI Director if he would be “loyal”, and receiving the response that he would be “honest”; the Director was forced to resign. And this is an organization that operates “at arm’s length” from the Presidency. It couldn’t pursue its mandate otherwise. If his former lawyer ever writes a tell-all book, he won’t even last until the mid-term elections.
      .
      After that, with a Democratic majority in the House, impeachment should be assured.
      .
      As far as Mr. Trudeau is concerned, unless he resorted to the Twittersphere (like a 10-year-old); all he did was state Canada’s position. Appeasing Trump is not only not an option: it’s an impossibility.
      .
      He is far better off with his own kind; “Fatty” and the other mafia in North Korea.

      • Rob–you really shouldn’t use Dem nonsense. They are total liars and tools of the globalists who buy them. The globalists have bought their share of Republicans too but they have co-opted EVERY Dem–especially those who are at the top of the party.

    • What “anti-semitic talking points” are you referencing, Karen? If you knew me, I would hope that you wouldn’t slander me that way. I am the least likely person that anyone could accuse of being “anti-semitic”. I side with the truth. When Trump is wrong (and he admitted that Canada does not have a trade surplus with the U.S.) I will say so. I already said that there is a worrisome trend over the last few years of having a trade deficit with the U.S. I also cited the fact that we are not charging the U.S. full value for our oil exports to them. The New York Times is part of the globalist media cabal–how convenient for them to label any criticism as “anti-Semitic”. There are MANY more Gentiles (non-Jews) among the globalists than there are Jews and I have argued online with far-right nuts on that matter. You are being silly to slander me that way.

  8. There is No ” Special Place in Hell ” for Donald Trump. He will be hanging out with Wacko NRA members , skinheads white supremacist racists and those millions of murderous immigrants he speaks so fondly of….I don’t like Justin and his Dad was a much disliked PM in his final years but they pale in comparison to that Clown who bullies the entire world except for Russia and buddy Putin……I guess the lure of real estate in Putin land is not enough to have him condemn the atrocities of that Commie….So much for The Rant…Nap time !

  9. Hugh Holland on

    The USA has many problems and most of them are self-imposed. The US does not have an income problem. They have by far the highest GDP per capita of any large country. But they also have one of the world’s biggest inequality problems with most of the money in a few hands which ironically are not Trump’s base. Trump has identified some of the problems but has no idea how to solve them. He made a lot of stupid promises during his election campaign and now he is frustrated because he cannot deliver on them.

    For him, everything is a deal. He is not satisfied with the largest GDP per capita of any large country. Just like his real estate deals, he seems to think that he and the USA should have all of the money and leave nothing for anyone else. The New York banks have been stung too many times and will have nothing to do with him, so he has to get in bed with the Russian banks and the Russian Mafia.

    Canada (with 36 million people) buys more from the USA than China, Japan, Germany, and South Korea combined (with a combined population of 1,663 million). But every weekend Trump has a Hitler-like rally to pump up his base with outright lies. He bashes Canada at every rally and then gets upset if Canada says anything to defend ourselves that might damage his boundless ego. Why? Because like a typical bully, he picks on the ones he thinks are the weakest and will capitulate the fastest.

    He keeps harping about milk and eggs. We sell almost no milk and eggs to the USA because we have a sensible un-subsidized system that matches production to our needs on these perishable products that cannot be stockpiled. On the other hand, the USA has massive subsidized overproduction of these perishable products and would like to dump them on Canada and put our farmers out of business. One would think that the great US free-enterprise system would result in lower prices for US consumers. It does not. We paid the same or more for milk and eggs in Florida as we pay in Huntsville.

    It is not the Chinese, or the Mexicans that moved jobs from the USA to China and Mexico. It was US companies that moved the jobs so their already wealthy shareholders could make even more low-tax investment income, and in so doing they put the American workers that vote for Trump out of a job. But so far, Trump seems to have convinced them of the reverse. When will they wake up?

    If Trump needs a win to satisfy his base, let him get a win from those countries that, unlike Canada, have a serious trade surplus with the USA. So far no other world leader has been able to get along with Trump for more than 2 or 3 days. I am very happy that Trudeau has shown the courage to stand up to the bully and hopefully he will continue to do so for another 2 years. If Trump is the best leader the US has to offer, then God help them.

    • I agree with most of what you say, Hugh–except the part about Trump “getting in bed” with Russian banks and Russian mafia. If you have proof–let’s see it.

      The reason why Trump does not get along with other Western leaders is because he believes that they have sold their people out to the globalist elites. He understands that the trade deficits with China were allowed to go on and on because it further enriched the elites. Not sure why he is blustering about Canada unless it is to show that he is impartial when he has to deal with the Chinese (I have other thoughts on it but it is late and I am tired). He has already gotten the Chinese to agree to spending $80 billion more on U.S. goods next year. He’s probably going to go for even more.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Hugh, but his very worst attribute is his complete and utter disregard for the rule of law. The other day, he said that if he was ever summoned to appear before The Supreme Court, he simply wouldn’t go. And if he was charged with anything in his absence, he would merely pardon himself.
      .
      But the scariest item to come out of the White House since Trump’s inauguration, was a few days ago, from Trump’s latest lawyer and fellow misogynist, Rudy Giuliani. He averred that if Trump had shot and killed James Comey, the former FBI director; instead of dismissing him; he would not even have been charged.
      .
      Is everybody in Washington drinking the same Kool Aid?

  10. Kathy Henderson on

    I agree with Britt and Trudeau can’t or I should say we can’t afford any more of Trudeau’s risks. He is a coward and a thief, never did pay us back for his unethical trip, and he is a liar. He doesn’t care about Canada or Canadians from what I have seen.

  11. We live truly in an era of uncharted waters, post-1945, what with the American president – who has shown utter contempt for fundamental democratic institutions & traditions – now pandering & appeasing a totalitarian Korean Stalinist, while at the same time bad-mouthing with glee the political leaders & destabilizing the economies of America’s historic democratic allies, including its northern neighbour with whom, over the last 150 years, it has shared the world’s longest undefended border. Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Mackenzie King, no doubt, are rolling in their graves!

  12. Larry Morrison on

    I totally disagree, Trudeau is looking at re-election next year, nobody should be stupid enough to be fooled by his sudden change of heart. He has done nothing in almost three years for Canadians except tax, tax, tax, that is the one thing his government of fools and misfits excel at, and of course giving away our money.
    Trump is attempting to make life better in the US, not our Village Idiot in Ottawa, as far as standing up to Trump if Trudeau and Freeloader had been worried about an actual free trade agreement and not some pipe dream the agreement would have been signed, Trump won’t be bullied by an idiot like Trudeau.
    Canada certainly should have learned its lesson voting in a brain dead low IQ feminist that’s claim to fame is snow boarding and being a “part time” drama teacher, hopefully because the leopard appeared to change its spots people are smart enough to know it didn’t.
    Harper said Trudeau wasn’t ready, in reality Trudeau is just too stupid.

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