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October 27, 2018

New NAFTA Hurts

Reuel S. Amdur

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USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement), son of NAFTA, means that Canada has been forced to make some important concessions. The notorious tariff on steel and aluminum, exempted from coverage as being necessary for defense, may be a prelude to other similar exceptions. The ongoing softwood lumber battle is not resolved, as the U.S. appeals and appeals, but objects when Canada does to the World Trade Organization.

Our medicines will become more expensive, as USMCA adds two years to patent protection for new drugs.  A provision of the deal gives the U.S. the right to cancel USMCA if they don’t like any trade pact we sign with China.  Canada continues to have no way of getting around U.S. “Buy American” trade policies.  There are other shortcomings from a Canadian perspective, but this gives you a general picture.

The Trudeau government, in crowing about the agreement seems to be suggesting that Canada could have fared much worse, were it not for the heroic efforts of Chrystia Freeland and her team.  That’s known a whistling in the graveyard.  However, Canada failed to use its defense card.

Canada is part of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, otherwise known as star wars.  We pay 10% of the cost and have personnel at NORAD headquarters in Colorado Springs.  Why?

The U.S. has enemies.  It is the biggest kid on the block and pushes its weight around.  Serious potential threats to the U.S. include Russia, China, and North Korea.  But who has it in for Canada?  No one.

We are helping cover American costs and bolstering their military position.  Without our money in NORAD and associated forces in Colorado Springs, the U.S. would be left to their own devices, to do whatever Canada is doing for them now.  To put it bluntly, what real benefit does Canada have from NORAD?

Our presence in NORAD is part of our role as U.S. camp follower in its adventures around the world.  There is, of course, our involvement in the sorry mess in Afghanistan.  And that sly dog Jean Chrétien sold Canadians on the lie that we stayed out of the Iraqi invasion, when in fact we had a handful of troops involved, along with a rotation of three generals. 

While I would argue that in any case we should be out of the star wars exercise, certainly if we stay in, we should not have to pay more for our medicines.  We should not be held up on steel, aluminum, and softwood lumber.

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