Not a good sign

Can it be a good sign that the U.S. government released its list of priorities for upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) re-negotiations during what their nation has declared “Made in America Week?” Hmm.

Seems chief among U.S. talking points is going to be an effort to eliminate dispute resolution panels which impartially arbitrate claims of agreement violations by one side or the other.

It’s not yet clear what, if anything, the U.S. is proposing to replace the panels with, but let’s hope it’s not the same methodology Republican President Donald Trump uses to settle most disputes. The “I’m president and you’re not” clause is unlikely to work often in Canada’s favour.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has found cause for optimism in a statement from American vice-president Mike Pence on July 14, promising a collaborative approach.

“We will modernize NAFTA for the 21st century so that it is a win-win-win for all of our trading partners in North America,” Pence said.

Of course that’s the same Mike Pence who went on television to announce that since-fired National Security Director (and since-admitted Turkish government agent) Mike Flynn never discussed sanctions with the Russians and that, in fact   there had been no contact between members of Trump’s team and Russia during the 2016 election campaign.

Seems the rest of Team Trump doesn’t always keep Pence up to speed on current  events.

Trump himself, meanwhile, is demanding all trade deals must decrease the U.S. trade deficit. That makes Pence’s assertion sound less like “win-win-win” and more like “spin-spin-spin.”

There’s a lot at stake for Canadians in the upcoming talks and difficulties are compounded by the fact negotiators are compelled to deal with a nation led by the most profligate (almost rhymes with Watergate) liar to lead a western nation in recorded history. Sad!