NAFTA: Who’s Acting in Bad Faith, Now?

And so, now Donald Trump’s allies in Congress want to make us believe that Canada is acting in bad faith during renegotiations for NAFTA’s renewal.

First, let’s get this straight: That doesn’t hold up!

On Tuesday, it was Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who released a statement denouncing Canada. The Louisianan politician is one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress and has a lot in common with his president.

He likes Donald Trump, and Trump likes him. He recently, by the way, hunted alligators with one of the president’s sons. In short, he is far from being neutral on this controversial issue.

This alligator hunter spoke of a “growing frustration with many in Congress regarding Canada’s negotiating tactics.” Immediately afterward, one of his colleagues, Texan Kevin Brady, demanded that Canada put its foot on the gas pedal.

Here, more context is necessary. Scalise’s release occurred 24 hours before Chrystia Freeland’s return to Washington. The Canadian minister of foreign affairs resumed negotiations in the American capital on Wednesday. Everything seems to have been planned out.

After the start of negotiations, the key players have kept a low profile. We don’t know what’s really happening behind closed doors.

However, there are sufficient indications that allow us to affirm that the Canadian prime minister is not the one acting in bad faith on this issue. It’s the American president.

Quite frankly, that Washington is complaining about Ottawa’s bad faith is as if a National Hockey League tough guy objected because he was flattened by a player half as large as him. Or as if a pit bull felt sorry for himself because the dog he bit refuses to be his best friend.

Can someone please explain to Scalise that not wanting to kneel before Trump doesn’t mean that one is acting in bad faith?

He should also be told that not wanting to renew NAFTA if one is set to lose more than one gains doesn’t mean that one is acting in bad faith.

And finally, he needs to be told that refusing to let Washington twist your arm under the pretext of setting a new deadline (a certain artificial point) doesn’t mean that one is acting in bad faith, either.

There are numerous statements among the overwhelming evidence of Trump’s bad faith, or that of some in his close circle, since negotiations began 13 months ago.

Think about it: the American president already said, among other things, that he was ready to tear the agreement apart.

Recently, behind closed doors, he made it known that he wouldn’t make any compromises during negotiations. Then, publicly, he threatened to remove Canada from NAFTA because an agreement was finalized with Mexico.

It’s true that Mexico’s signature put additional pressure on Ottawa. But Canada still has numerous allies on American soil, even among politicians in the middle of the situation and among the trade unions. Allies who strongly want the new treaty to be signed by the three countries.

It’s clear Trump and the Republicans would love to be able to brandish the new NAFTA draft like a trophy before the midterm election on Nov. 6. But Canadian negotiators shouldn’t let themselves be intimidated. Their country’s best interests should guide them, not the interests of the American president and his sidekicks.

The Freeland T-shirt

The Canadian minister of foreign affairs was noticed in Washington because of her T-shirt. What did it say?

“Keep calm and negotiate NAFTA,” referencing the 1939 British slogan of “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

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