Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has introduced himself to the world as the loveable leader of everyone’s favourite $1-trillion economy. Always smiling and never snide, Trudeau’s positive glow reduces the shadows cast by politicians such as Donald Trump and the Brexiteers. Still, this is the son of the late Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s infamously acerbic leader from 1968 to 1979 and then again from early 1980 to June 1984. The elder Trudeau hit to hurt. So does his son. Witness Justin’s reaction last week to Europe’s waffling over the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU:
"If, in a week or two, we see that Europe is unable to sign a progressive trade agreement with a country like Canada, well then with whom will Europe do business in the years to come?" Trudeau stated in Ottawa on Oct. 13. "In this post-Brexit situation where there are a great many questions about Europe's usefulness, if Europe cannot manage to sign this agreement, then that sends a very clear message not just to Europe, but to the whole world, that Europe is choosing a path that is not productive for its citizens or the world. And that would be a shame."
Low blow. The EU’s recent history involved an existential debt crisis, a destabilizing crush of refugees, and a shock separation announcement from one of its biggest members. Now, Europe’s leaders are trying to secure a massive trade agreement amidst a backlash against globalization. Trudeau has little sympathy: he embraced CETA even though it mostly was negotiated by the government he defeated a year ago this month. Now it is the EU’s turn to step up. Trade ministers were scheduled to meet on Oct. 18 in Luxembourg to decide on ratification. The outcome was in doubt because the parliament of the Walloon region of Belgium rejected CETA last week, putting pressure on the federal government to do the same. CETA must be approved by each of the EU’s member states. The stakes will be high.
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