Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

It’s just a week after the name-calling and adolescent spasms on display at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in London, when the U.S. President called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced” over comments picked up by a microphone. But as many suspected, or at least hoped, it was just a tempest in a Trump pot.

Far from any damage inflicted – any rupture in the Canada-U.S. relationship – there’s now the opposite. After intense negotiations with Canadian and Mexican officials, U.S. lawmakers have agreed to ratify the new continental trade accord.

With the securing of NAFTA 2.0, or the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), as the White House likes to call it, thus ends one of the longest-running, highest-stakes disputes in the annals of Ottawa-Washington confrontations.

Story continues below advertisement

Trade is the motor of the Canada-U.S. relationship. Owing to Donald Trump’s trade-war proclivities, its condition has been in a state of uncertainty, under threat of destabilization ever since he came to power. As the Bank of Canada has noted, this has contributed to reduced business investment in Canada and slower economic growth.

The announcement Tuesday was well overshadowed by the Trump impeachment drama. But it constitutes a notable achievement for a President whose aggressiveness on trade has failed to show results elsewhere. It’s a significant moment for Mr. Trudeau, too, as it is a far more important issue than whether Canada’s level of defence spending meets the demands of Washington or that of a semi-obsolete NATO.

Never short on superlatives, Mr. Trump predicted the accord “will be the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA.” He and his Republicans need it to help secure the support of his blue-collar constituents in swing states. Democrats needed to show they were not a do-nothing party, as Mr. Trump alleges. They too need the backing of working-class voters in those states and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quick to try to take credit for the agreement, saying her party’s changes had made it “infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration. … We’re declaring victory for the American worker.”

The latest revisions demanded by the Democrats and agreed to by the Republicans include strong labour enforcement regulations and the scrapping of a provision that could have led to high prescription drug prices. Votes in the House and the Senate will finalize the deal within the next month and there will be no problem with it gaining approval by the Canadian Parliament.

After last week’s upheaval, it’s a good bet the President and the Prime Minister will be on good terms again. Such is the reality of the bilateral relationship: It’s sometimes battered, but never broken.

The dust-up in London stirred fears of reprisals from an often vengeful White House. Mockery of Mr. Trudeau poured forth from Donald Trump, Jr., the President’s fire-breathing son. When news of last month’s deep Canadian job losses were posted, he tweeted. “Maybe Justin should watch @realDonald Trump & learn how to create jobs...or go back to being a substitute drama teacher.”

Mr. Trudeau, whose government has fared quite well on the jobs front, surely has learning to do. But he’ll gladly take a pass on watching and learning from the gong show offered by Don Junior’s father.

Story continues below advertisement

The Prime Minister’s tepid criticisms of Mr. Trump in London initially drew excessive scorn from the media, myself included. As the dust settled, it was the President who deservedly got the heat for his “two-faced” cheap shot. Joe Biden’s campaign for the Democratic nomination used a clip of Mr. Trudeau and other leaders yukking it up at Mr. Trump’s expense as a campaign ad.

While ratifying the accord, the Trudeau government can enjoy the spectacle of this reckless President being put through the impeachment ringer, even though he will likely survive the ordeal.

With security finally established on the trade front, the damage Mr. Trump can now do to Canada is diminished.

That he can belittle Ottawa for not meeting a pledge on defence spending is the height of hypocrisy when viewed in the context of agreements he has broken or withdrawn from: the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accord, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the United Nations Human Rights Council.

But at least one deal Mr. Trump won’t be breaking is the new NAFTA. The turmoil on the continental trade front is finally over. All parties – the President and the Prime Minister – can say so with a straight face.

Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies