Blame Canada!

Normally, I try not to get too caught up in American politics.  I don’t want to follow every development in Washington.  There are some things you can’t ignore, of course, but I don’t need to know everything that goes on.  I don’t watch American news, particularly the cable news channels.  Even so, we get plenty of American political coverage on Canadian TV – more than is necessary, in my opinion.  Two of the funniest shows on television also happen to poke fun at American politics, providing me with all the knowledge I need.

The current presidential primary campaigns in the U.S. are a perfect example of too much foreign coverage.  Canadian networks have followed every step of the year long run up to the next election.  I try not to pay attention to all of it.  A periodic update on the races, results of major primaries, and reports of major gaffes would probably suffice.  One story has caught my attention, though.

NAFTA has become an issue in the campaign, with both Democratic candidates claiming that it is costing Americans.  Hillary Clinton even mentioned Canada by name, saying she will renegotiate the trade pact because American companies can’t get their products into Canada due to invisible barriers.

She’s right.  I just can’t find an American product anywhere in Canada.  I hunt high and low for American brands, but they’re just not there.  They’ve been squeezed out by Canadian brands like…. uh…. you know…  Well, I can’t think of them at the moment, but they’re pretty ubiquitous and have so much clout that they can actually get the government to prevent American brands from entering Canada.

Really?  You think we put bogus barriers in place?  How about American refusal to accept NAFTA panel rulings on softwood lumber and imposing tariffs?  They use the Canadian stumpage fee system as an excuse but stumpage fees apply to trees cut down, or raw logs.  Yet, there seems to be no limit to the number of raw logs they’ll import from Canada for their mills to process.  They apply the tariff to processed wood, not logs.  Where do stumpage fees figure in that?  Looks like an excuse to protect American mills and reduce the Canadian forestry industry to a primary one.

American farmers are directly subsidized.  Canadian farmers aren’t.

There was also the U.S. cattle and meat packing industries exploiting the Canadian industry during the BSE crisis.  American producers picked up young Canadian cattle for a song from desperate ranchers while the U.S. border remained closed to older Canadian animals for longer than was necessary.  This was despite the fact that there had been cases of victims of mad cow disease in the U.S. (in New Jersey, for example) that were not related to Canadian cattle.

How about security restrictions, even against their friends and allies?  Why did MDA have to try and sell its space division to an American military contractor for a chance to sell some satellites to the U.S. government?  Both Democratic candidates should remember that they have stated the need to mend relationships with friends and allies that have been damaged by the Bush administration.  Sen. Clinton’s comment sounds a bit like more of the same foreign policy derived from ‘South Park: The Movie’.

Are there some protectionist practices on this side of the border, too?  Probably.  The CBC reported that some agricultural shenanigans are used by both sides.  But, if NAFTA is opened up, it works both ways.  Both sides will have things they want to change.   That won’t address the American tendency to flout the rules and ignore rulings they don’t like, though.

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4 Responses to “Blame Canada!”

  1. wanderer7 Says:

    blame mexico!

  2. Powell Lucas Says:

    I see by a number of U.S. blogs that Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton intend to FORCE Canada into renegotiating NAFTA. I’ve got news for them both…and it’s all bad. If either of these twits think they can renegotiate NAFTA and have it pass the Canadian parliament, they’re dreaming in Technicolor. With the way that Canadians feel about being bad-mouthed by a pair of losers like these it would be an issue that might even inject a little backbone into the Liberals and have them force an election. This time NAFTA would go down the tubes. As a former supporter of NAFTA I have reached the conclusion that you either kill it or keep it. No renegotiations!

  3. paulmct Says:

    I agree that parliament would not ratify a NAFTA renegotiated in the Americans’ favour. I also think a few Canadians are surprised by what they’re hearing. Who knows? Maybe it’s all just election year bluster. No shortage of that going on. I wouldn’t call them twits and losers, though.

    I’m beginning to think the Liberals’ strategy is to wait until after the American election to bring down the government. Then, assuming there’s a Democrat administration in Washington, they’ll sell Canadians on the idea that we’d be better off with a more ideologically aligned government here that is more conducive to friendly relations. That’s if they have a strategy, at all.

  4. paulmct Says:

    Thanks for reading and commenting, wanderer7.

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