New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers talked about the issue at length last week in Vermont. So did the U.S. ambassador to Canada during a weekend visit to Prince Edward Island. They all expressed support for NAFTA and the benefits of free trade between Canada and the U.S., while expressing regret with the current trade spat hurting both countries.
That’s all fine but what are governors and the ambassador going to do about it? No matter how much supporting data, logic and common sense is presented, nothing seems to prevent U.S. President Donald Trump from making his own irrational decisions. Everyone then falls in line or keeps their mouth shut.
Isn’t it about time that someone takes the president to task at the ambassadorial, state and congressional levels to force an end to this trade war nonsense?
Ambassador Kelly Craft spent four days on the Island, watching horse races and pressing a lot of well-connected flesh at Red Shores on Friday and during The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer card Sunday night.
It was good to see the ambassador visit P.E.I., getting briefed on economic success stories from Premier Wade MacLauchlan. A meeting with seafood and agriculture industry leaders was certainly a welcome development.
But more could have been made of the opportunity. Local chambers of commerce would likely have seized the opportunity to sit down for a chat. The ambassador’s husband, Joseph Craft, is president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, so such a meeting would have been a natural fit.
The premier called the trip a success because it was about building on relationships. Ms. Craft is reluctant to chat with the media anywhere so it’s hard to get an opinion about her thoughts on Canada-U.S. relations.
P.E.I. is pushing forward on green energy projects such as wind and solar power to try and avoid a carbon tax from Ottawa. We’re not sure how that went over with Ms. Craft whose husband is a U.S. coal tycoon. Coal power isn’t really what P.E.I. is all about these days.
At the governors and premiers conference, Premier MacLauchlan said he stressed the importance of Canada’s system of agricultural supply management. It was also high on the agenda when U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited P.E.I. in June. New England’s governors say they view the current trade spat between Canada and the U.S. as an aberration. Governors and premiers approved a resolution supporting NAFTA. But we’ve heard all this talk before. They say all the right things but nothing is getting solved.
And charm offences with the new U.S. administration haven’t been very successful. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried that ploy during a visit to Washington and looked where it got him. It didn’t take long for the president to turn on his oldest and most loyal ally simply because the PM told a press conference he wasn’t going to be pushed around by the U.S.
Let’s hope the premier’s charming of Ms. Craft is more successful and longer-term.