Wow, didn’t see that one coming. No, not the lumber duties. We all knew President Donny would be an uber-protectionist on trade, more on that in a minute. No, I’m talking about Kevin O’Leary dropping out of the Conservative Leadership race and endorsing Maxime Bernier. Apparently, O’Leary says he can’t carry Quebec in a national election and without Quebec, he can’t win. So it took him since January to figure out that Quebecers weren’t going to be too keen on a national candidate who wouldn’t or couldn’t speak French, among many other, shall we say, weaknesses. Bye Kevin.
On to trade.
While many of us have been shaking our heads in disbelief during President Donald Trump’s first 100 days, indeed since his election last fall, indeed since he descended from the heavens… er higher floor of the building, on an escalator to announce his candidacy, many others said, hey it’s the U.S., he’s their problem and/or salvation, not ours.
I mean aside from getting us involved in a global nuclear showdown, which would never happen…. oh wait.
Well global politics aside, he’s not going to affect our lives here in B.C. Until this week. When he most certainly did.
I speak of the softwood lumber duties imposed this week and other shots fired across the bow regarding Canadian products. That’s going to cause quite a bit of turmoil right across the province and right here in the East Kootenay. It’s certainly been the focus of the B.C. provincial election campaign this week as candidates go after each other on their ability to deal with the tariffs and fling blame around for what has occurred.
Now softwood lumber disputes are almost as old as the very trees being harvested. The U.S. has been crying foul for years, notwithstanding that every time the softwood lumber agreement goes before a court, the U.S. loses. Here’s the thing. Canada has a lot more forested land than the U.S. Much of it is Crown land, and the U.S. lumber producers feel Canadian companies are given an unfair advantage in their access to the trees on Crown land, despite the fact that they do pay stumpage fees for that access.
Every time the softwood agreement comes up, U.S. lumber producers cry foul and eventually some sort of deal is worked out.
But Trump, reeling from recent non-successes, has always tried to shift the conversation by pointing to a new enemy. And this week, that enemy is good old Canada. By ranting and tweeting about Canada’s supposed unfair trade practices in dairy and lumber, Trump comes across to his supporters as the guy who will save them jobs, keep American farmers farming and lumberjacks, er… jacking. It keeps the conversation away from Trump’s inability to get his own party to pass any of his legislation. He went nowhere on health care, his tax reform is already shaping up to be a disaster that will help only his billionaire buddies, and his wall is slowly crumbling before it is even built, because though Republicans control both the House and the Senate, there doesn’t appear to be a will to fund the massively expensive campaign promise. He’s got troubles, does Trump.
So why not direct the ire of Americans on Canada? What’s Canada going to do? Apparently, we’re going to eat it.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Canada, James Blanchard had this to say, “I don’t even think the president knows what he wants to do here. He just likes to negotiate, and bully a little bit. Canada just needs not to overreact.”
As columnist John Ivison pointed out in the National Post this week, “Blame Canada was a spoof, Mr. President.”
But that’s not going to stop Trump. He needs a distraction and what better one than that big bully Canada beating up on the poor helpless United States? Why if not for Canada, the United States would be a super power, an economic giant, have a seat on the Security Council, be able to affect world events every time its president tweeted.
We in Canada have got to stop pushing people around.