Canada will get at least some N95 respirator masks from 3M, says Peter Navarro.
“There will still be some exports from the United States factories to our friends in Mexico and Canada,” the trade adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump told Fox News, even though Mr. Trump last week ordered 3M to stop shipping masks here.
Mr. Navarro’s reassurance suggests that the latest effort by Team Canada – an ad hoc group of federal politicians, senior public servants, premiers and business leaders that assembles regularly to counteract whatever is the most recent destructive act of the Trump administration – may be bearing fruit, again.
Mr. Trump imposed steel and aluminum tariffs; Team Canada got them lifted. Mr. Trump threatened to scrap the North American free-trade agreement; Team Canada got a new deal.
Last month, Canada dissuaded the Americans from a cockamamie scheme to deploy troops along the border. And if Mr. Navarro is to be believed, the NAFTA-based medical-equipment supply chain will remain intact and Canada will get its masks.
But how much time and effort and sleep have been lost to contain the damage from this presidential vandalism? Everyone in this country shares the frustration of Ontario Premier Doug Ford when he said of the Americans on the weekend: “We’re one big family, but they’ve cut out one part of the family now. ... I am so disappointed in what they are doing.”
Some Canadians will want to retaliate, to limit exports of materials used in making masks or to keep Windsor’s health-care workers from working in Detroit.
But Canada cannot win a trade war with the United States. They are too large and we are too small. Mr. Trudeau put it more diplomatically on Sunday: “I don’t think it’s a good thing to harm your neighbour to succeed. That’s why we will work together to resolve this difference between friends.”
Except that Donald Trump and those who support him are no friends of Canada, or of anyone else in the world.
Think of the anniversary that just passed. On April 3, 1948, 72 years ago, President Harry Truman signed the legislation that became known as the Marshall Plan: a massive aid package that launched the economic recovery of Europe. The UN, NATO, NORAD, GATT and the WTO, NAFTA, the G7 and G20 – these and other acronyms and initials represent the trade and security fabric of the modern world, led by the United States, with Canada its closest ally.
But the coronavirus pandemic exposed the tears in that fabric. American leadership in this crisis has been non-existent. Red states and blue states war over who is to blame for the country’s late and clumsy response to the pandemic, and whether churches should remain open. Once, the world would have counted on the U.S. to co-ordinate a global response to COVID-19. No more.
Some will insist that Canada must lessen its dependence on a failing United States and diversify its trade. With whom? China suppressed knowledge of the virus and even now is sowing global disinformation and conspiracy theories through its media. Yes, they’re sending masks. They also continue to imprison innocent Canadians.
The European Union is at risk of disintegrating, as member countries horde their medical supplies and at least one, Hungary, slides into dictatorship. Can the EU regroup without Britain and with Italy and Spain in deep economic distress?
And no, Canada cannot simply become more self-reliant. We are a small population scattered across a continent. We must trade to survive. And we’re stuck with the Americans.
Mr. Trump is on TV every day celebrating himself, while former vice-president Joe Biden, who is almost certain to be the Democratic nominee, is invisible.
Mr. Trump is likely to win re-election. And even if he loses, the many millions of America-firsters who support him will continue to push for closed borders and closed minds.
In the meantime, Team Canada will have to continue its work: bracing for the next outrage from the President, then pressing the administration’s more reasonable minds to remember that whatever hurts our country hurts their country too.
As if everyone didn’t have better things to do in such times.
The Globe and Mail
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