There’s very little we can do about the trade problems at the international level that are so critical to us.
The best we can hope for is that these problems are not made worse at the national or even at the provincial level by politicians eager to score local political points.
The key to this would be for our politicians to not get caught up in games, but instead support the idea that we do need to find a solution.
In that regard, a lot of our politicians need to do better. They need to think about how their politicking may cost us in the long run.
This is not to say that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deserves a free pass for his handling of the North American Free Trade Agreement and certainly not for the botched handling of the Trans Mountain pipeline that he purchased from Kinder-Morgan, but can’t now get approval to build.
That said, let’s understand there will be a chance for Canadian voters to exercise their frustrations with the Trudeau Liberal government at the polls in a year from now.
And there are couple of other things we need to recognize.
As suggested by Jeremy Harrison, provincial Trade and Export Development minister, there really isn’t an issue as important to Saskatchewan as trade.
“We need to get a deal. This is incredibly important for our economy, which is probably the most export-dependent in the entire country, and we’ve been concerned about a pattern we’ve been seeing, moving backward on market access, moving backward on trade access; not moving forward,” Harrison recently told David Fraser of the Leader-Post.
All politicians, including Harrison, who does have a penchant for seeing the world through the political lens first, need to keep this foremost in mind.
Second, we need to respect that Canadians of all political stripes, Conservatives like former interim leader Rona Ambrose and Liberals like Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, are working exceedingly hard at getting a NAFTA deal with the U.S. that works in the interests of all Canadians.
This is how it should be, for there are just some issues that are bigger than the mundane partisanship politics.
There are just times when politicians, pundits and everyone else have to make a pronounced statement that declares their country comes before their politics.
This absolutely must apply to the NAFTA talks. And that should now be blatantly obvious to everyone after the story late last month in which U.S. President Donald Trump made it known to journalists with Bloomberg News in off-the-record comments (first reported by the Toronto Star) that any deal reached would be "totally on our terms" and that Canadians would have "no choice" out of fear of tariffs on automobiles.
"Off the record, Canada's working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala," Trump is reported to have said, referring to a model of a car made at a Canadian GM plant.
Yet despite confirmation of Trump’s unfair belligerence that surely must be having an effect on the tactics of the U.S. negotiators handpicked by Trump, we have seen Canadian pundits blame Trudeau for the supposed failure in negotiation.
Even worse, we have seen Conservative politicians attempt to use this opportunity to score political points, the worst case of which was likely Saskatchewan Senator David Tkachuk appointed by former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney 28 years ago for the sole purpose of passing a harmonized goods and services tax.
Sadly, some Conservatives have eagerly repeated and supported Tkachuk’s position.
This is a massive disservice to the nation.
There are times when we simply need our politicians to be better.