What is wrong with Canada? It’s the massive landmass sitting atop the United States that has great potential. But despite her capability to support industrial and civic growth, Canada just maintains the status quo, being a mediocre nation licking the boots of great western powers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s taking his post was enough of a harbinger, but his more recent foreign relations only make things worse.
When I read Trudeau had fired his foreign affairs minister Stephane Dion, only to install a Russophobe named Chrystia Freeland who had held the role of international trade minister, I cannot say I was surprised. Banned from Russia in the countersanctions imposed because of Canada’s backing of Obama détente, Freeland wasted no time in letting her views on Russia be known. The boondoggle for progressive conservatives and nationalists is, outgoing minister Dion wanted to improve relations with Russia. As for Trudeau and Freeland are dead set to fight Donald Trump’s repeal moves for NAFTA and globalist expansion. Given Trump’s pre-presidential success with major auto manufacturers, the people in Ontario will not be thrilled if the Canadian PM succeeds in his plans. Trump’s anti-globalist, almost protectionist policy plans could actually help Canadians even more than their American counterparts. According to Radio Canada International:
“Dion had sought to reverse the policy of the previous Conservative government of Prime Minister Harper who cut almost all political contacts with Moscow.”
The NAFTA moves, then China’s ascendance to the World Trade Organization caused a massive exodus of manufacturing from the US and Canada. The effects of this mass migration of jobs and productivity (profit) are only now being seen in the stagnant economy propped up with cheap gas. Auto makers and parts suppliers in Canada have escaped the bitter pill NAFTA forced down American workers’ throats, but if Trudeau and Freeland’s plans play out. Even if the jobs do not immediately shift offshore of Canada, Trudeau going against President Trump will surely spell TAX to any Canadian auto or parts imports. The new President has certified this in no uncertain terms. Facing the facts, there is no manufactured product Canada can make that cannot be made as good and as cheap in the US. Turning to the Russophobic détente of the last years, the Canadian people are not going to fare well fighting in all four corners of the economic ring. A NAFTA deal now has almost zero chance of success. Trump has already warned Toyota and others to move to the US or else. Until Canadians start driving three cars a piece, the United States is the only game in town.
I ran the year-to-date export numbers for several Canadian industries by selecting them semi-randomly, here is what I found. For auto parts exports the United States is the largest importer of Canadian products by far with over $11 billion compared to second place Mexico at $793 million. Next I selected broad woven fabrics export volumes, and found similar numbers. Year to date Canada has shipped $190 million dollars in finished textiles the US, while the next closest country (Mexico) received only $6.7 million. Next I selected wood products manufacturing from the Canadian government site and discovered the same ratios. The US took about $9 billion in products from Canada suppliers, with China receiving about $700 million. The rub for Trudeau is fairly obvious, he cannot negotiate at all going against Canada’s main trading partner. So if Trump supports a reboot with Russia, and if the new American president is out to dump globalism, the Canadian people will hurt hard unless their Prime Minister has a backup plan.
The Canadians seem to be caught inside some kind of time warp trap, waiting for Hillary Clinton to rise from the ashes of bitter defeat. Over at Global Research Jim Miles encapsulates the mess Trudeau is about to get Canada into:
“Chrystia Freeland is not sanctioned by the U.S. and would be most highly welcomed by the war hawk Clinton establishment – essentially the corporate/military/bankster complex that encompasses the deep state. With Trump she would be a pain in the…side…and would serve as an indicator that Canada will not work with Trump in relations with Putin – a plus for Trudeau in his establishment credentials.”
The fourth largest country in the world by land area, Canada’s true potential is not even close to being tapped. A nation of only 36 million people, the country probably should have emerged as a major power decades ago. Instead the hapless politicians set in place there just tag along, and they don’t even do a good job of that. Canada’s national debt of just over $800 billion is not even all that bad compared to the US, and European nations. Still the leadership there trudges along doing foreign policy like a satrap. It is inconceivable for me that the world’s most educated country can appoint the dumbest leaders on the planet. The only country that can actually beat Russia at ice hockey cannot even chart its own course and best interests?
Canada-Russia relations and trade were put on hold after the Ukraine crisis, to the detriment of both nations. Growing domestic demand and the vast natural resources of both countries made Russia one of the most attractive destinations for Canadian goods and services. The two nations had made great progress with their participation in the Canada-Russia Intergovernmental Economic Commission (IEC). And working groups established in the areas of agri-food and agriculture, fuel and energy, construction and housing, mining, and the Arctic and North showed brilliant promise before Crimea returned to Russia. These initiatives would have greatly benefitted the Canadians, but Russia has alternatives in China and the other BRICS. This is why I am asking “What is wrong with Canada?” There is no clear strategy for any kind of win for Canadians.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.