The Trudeau Liberals “naively” failed to believe Trump would come at Canada with tariffs as an opening gambit to trade talks, it was “absolutely devastating” and Canada “had no plan” to deal with it, charged NDP Trade Critic Tracey Ramsey.
“We can’t sit back and naively believe we’re not going to be targeted” by Trump, said Ramsey in a Gamechangers podcast interview.
Ramsey also said the Liberals failed to provide any analysis of the impact of the Trans Pacific Partnership and didn’t give appropriate parliamentary oversight on the new NAFTA deal or the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement.
Trump tariffs put Canada in “reactive” mode for NAFTA.
The Trudeau Liberals failed to anticipate Trump’s “devastating” tariffs on steel and aluminum and wrongly continue to believe other countries negotiate free trade, argued Ramsey.
“It absolutely makes no sense that we’re not trying to push back” against countries that violate trade rules, said Ramsey.
A recent flashpoint has been so-called Buy America laws that require U.S. domestic procurement for U.S. public infrastructure projects.
Late last year, Canadian crown corporation VIA Rail gave a $1 billion rolling stock refurbishment contract to the Germany company Seimans, which will carrying out the work in a California manufacturing facility.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau defended the contract, arguing that NAFTA guarantees U.S. companies access to Canadian public procurement work.
Yet there’s no reciprocity.
Despite NAFTA, Buy America laws block Canadian companies from winning U.S. infrastructure bids. And under the new NAFTA, if ratified, those prohibitions will continue.
And recently, using Buy America laws, U.S. President Trump increased the domestic steel requirements, setting them at 95 per cent on U.S. government procured projects
“We need to get this in front of the WTO,” says Ramsey.
Despite job concerns, Liberals signed TPP while providing no analysis
Liberals also should have “given pause” after concerning industry submissions and a Tufts University report that projected the Trans-Pacific Partnership would kill 60,000 Canadian jobs. Instead, says Ramsey, the government “plowed forward” with the deal, providing no analysis of the TPP deal to address the concerns raised.
“How can the government stand up and say what an incredible achievement this is for Canada,” asked Ramsey. “There is no analysis that backs that up.”
In particular, Canadian manufacturing employers and unions worried the TPP’s lax auto sector domestic content rules gave assembly plants in Japan and other TPP countries a back door to parts plants in low-wage China.
The TPP also increased foreign access to the Canada dairy market, which sparked a $3.2 billion compensation package to diary farmers.
Trade deals lack public review and analysis, says Ramsey
Ramsey argued Canada needs a more transparent, analysis-driven and consistent process for trade deals — before and after the deal is signed.
Leading up to the approval of the TPP, the House of Commons Trade Committee traveled to receive over 400 submissions. But on the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement and new NAFTA, “none of that happened. It’s inconsistent,” said Ramsey.
And after the deals are signed, there’s no follow-through analysis. “There’s no check-and-balance after, there’s no reporting…to say what actually happened after the signing.”
The Liberals “stand in front of cameras and call them gold standards…and when they’re asked for some proof of that, it doesn’t actually exist.”