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Then U.S. vice president Al Gore gestures towards Ross Perot during a televised debate of NAFTA in Washington, Nov. 9, 1993. The debate took place on the Larry King Live show on CNN.
Then U.S. vice president Al Gore gestures towards Ross Perot during a televised debate of NAFTA in Washington, Nov. 9, 1993. The debate took place on the Larry King Live show on CNN.
(Associated Press/CNN)

COLIN ROBERTSON

NAFTA’s enduring lesson: Never forget your neighbours

Twenty years ago, Americans and a lot of Canadians tuned in on a November evening to watch Larry King host what turned out to be seminal debate on free trade. It pitted then U.S. vice president Al Gore against Ross Perot.

Mr. Perot, the irascible Texan, was riding a wave of popular discontent with his warning that Americans should listen for a ‘giant sucking sound going south’ as jobs fled to the Mexican maquiladoras. The appeal netted him 19 per cent of the popular vote in the 1992 election, making him the most successful third party challenger since Teddy Roosevelt in 1912.