So, it begins. President Donald Trump is now on record saying he wants to “speed up” the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who will lead Canada’s engagement with the Trump administration, insisted on February 2 that it would be incorrect to say the clock has started. Freeland, a former journalist who would have been used to obfuscation in her old job, has become rather good at it in her new life as a cabinet minister. Don’t be fooled: it’s real; NAFTA is about to be overhauled.
The months ahead will feature a lot of what I call, “Little Canada.” By that I mean the impulse to narrow Canada’s world view to what goes on in the United States, which I mentioned in a piece on January 27. As if on cue, Evan Solomon documented unofficial Ottawa’s willingness to abandon Mexico if doing so would allow Canada to protect its “special” relationship with the United States. Solomon spoke to Derek Burney, the former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. who helped negotiate NAFTA. “The U.S. war of words with Mexico is dangerous, and Burney, among others, is convinced the first thing that Canada has to do is abandon the Three Amigos relationship,” Solomon wrote at Maclean’s on January 30. He quoted Burney as saying the following: “We should not indulge in ridiculous posturing—like getting together with Mexico to defend our interests, when Canada has very different economic interests than Mexico. It is a fundamental error to conflate them.”
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