By now you, but not me, know the results of the Ontario election. I mean I know now, but as of writing this column I did not know.
So either Andrea Howarth and the NDP pulled it off, or you now have Premier Doug Ford. More on that next week.
This week, let’s talk trade.
President Czar Supreme Leader Donald Trump — did you hear he’s above the law? Cuz he is. He said so — has decided that the next step to Making America Great Again is to get into a trade war with all of the closest allies of the United States.
That’s right, last week Trump slapped tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum imports to the U.S. citing national security threats. This is where you insert the head scratching emoticon. Canada? A threat to U.S. national security?
It was also reported on Wednesday that when Prime Minister Trudeau questioned the idea of Canada being a national security threat, Trump responded, “didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” He speaks of the war of 1812. With the British. 55 years before Canada was a country. But I guess pre-Canada Canadians were involved, so… point taken. The Pres holds a long grudge.
Trump also dropped tariffs on products from Mexico and the European Union. In other words, all of America’s closest allies.
Now I think in Trump’s mind all of those allies are supposed to roll over and beg Trump to lift the tariffs, and/or indicate a willingness to pay them so as to appease the Great Leader.
Unfortunately, it’s not working out that way so far, as Canada, Mexico and the EU have all announced retaliatory tariffs. And the nifty thing about these retaliations is that they are all aimed at different sectors of the American economy, but paying particular attention to possible swing states in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections and home states of particular members of Congress.
Canada’s list of tariffs looks like a rather strange hodge podge of goods, but a closer look by experts reveals that they are in fact very strategic.
US Speaker Paul Ryan is from Wisconsin and that state has a large cucumber and pickle industry. So.. pickle tariffs. The state also manufactures Toro mowers, so lawn mowers were added to the list.
U.S. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is from Kentucky. What does Kentucky make? Bourbon. What’s on the tariff list? Bourbon.
Donald Trump won Pennsylvania only by the slimmest of margins and anything that upsets the economy in that state could have repercussions on the ballot in November. So Canada slapped a tariff on chocolate. Pennsylvania is the home of Hershey Chocolate.
Florida is a swing state, and an important one. The old axiom that if you take Florida, you take the presidency has often been proven true. Florida produces orange juice. On Canada’s tariff list is orange juice.
Now King Don has already said, and tweeted, in his infinite wisdom, that trade wars are good and easy to win. And Trump likes to win. He promised nothing but winning in his election campaign, although there hasn’t been a whole lot of winning yet. Yes, the U.S. economy is rumbling along, although while Trump loudly proclaims the job numbers and takes full credit for them, they were actually better under Obama — who got zero credit from Republicans for them.
This week Trump heads to Quebec for a G7 meeting and the Washington Post reported on Thursday that he was grumpy about it and didn’t want to go. He doesn’t want to be lectured by those he imposed tariffs on, apparently. He prefers to be treated like a God-King like he was when he visited Saudi Arabia. He doesn’t want to meet with people who have the nerve to believe they are equal to him.
Should be an interesting meeting. But while the higher-ups meet, you can be sure of one thing — it’s the American and Canadian consumer who is going to end up emptying their pockets as this trade war heats up.