Roll over, U.S. elephant; the mouse has roared

U.S. President Donald Trump is right: Canadians have exercised our dominance over the Americans on trade for long enough. The mouse has been nipping away at the elephant’s toes for so long that it can barely stand.

Animal rights groups are now lamenting the fate of the elephant.

As the president noted, we are indeed “spoiled” Canadians when it comes to trade with the U.S. The Trump administration is justifiably trying to fix this, but we are being “difficult to deal with.”

It’s time we woke up and smelled the canola. After all, we did invent the crop, if nothing else to shut out the Americans in the oilseed market, which we’ve done to great effect. The U.S. hasn’t gone big on canola. Why would they? The “can” is derived from Canada.

In 1993, when NAFTA went into effect, the U.S. exported 16 million tonnes of soybeans. In 2016, exports were only 55 million tonnes. Imagine how much more soybeans the Americans could be exporting if they didn’t have canola invading their market share.

We’re beyond spoiled. Beyond difficult. We’ve been cruel.

And our obstinacy in NAFTA negotiations shows we don’t even feel Trump’s pain.

We’ve been unCanadian in asserting ourselves at the table. We need to be nicer, like people think we are. We have fooled the malleable, vulnerable Americans long enough.

After all, we duped 35 states into making Canada their number one destination for exports, and after luring them in we have ruthlessly exploited those states. They are so bedazzled by Canada’s brilliance that many business and agricultural leaders in those states are beseeching the Trump administration not to kill NAFTA.

All along, no one knew we were this good at manipulation and deception.

Until now. Trump is on to us. The jig is up. We’ve been exposed as the unscrupulous, ruthless traders that we are.

Look what we’re doing with the newTPP-11. We tricked the U.S. into quitting and we’ve conned another 10 countries into believing they’ve done a good thing. Who’d have thought Japan’s trade ministers could be so easily mesmerized by Canadian negotiators’ guile?

We can revel in our smugness.

But it’s about to come crashing down. The U.S. is standing up for itself by going to the World Trade Organization to protest British Columbia’s rules allowing only that province’s wines on grocery store shelves.

Isn’t it ironic that our trade dominance over the U.S. will be lost to Trump through the WTO?

It’s payback, you see. We thrashed the U.S. with four rulings in favour of Canada against country-of-origin legislation. And it only cost us $8 billion. Mere cattle feed.

It must have been so humiliating all these years when the communist organization known as the Canadian Wheat Board, posing as a state trader, shut the Americans out of the world grain market.

And Canada’s all-powerful dairy industry has reduced American milk producers to roadside sales through the supply management system.

We’ve had a little fun with the trade file here, but there are realities to the latest developments. Canada has finally tabled the text of the TPP-11 deal, with the goal of ratification. Aside from the benefits of the deal — including better access to Japanese markets — ratification sends a clear message to the Trump administration that we are prepared to move on if the U.S. can’t be reasonable on NAFTA talks.

Spoiled? Difficult to deal with? These aren’t terms we’re normally used to hearing about Canadians. But in the context of the coarse behaviour of the Trump administration during NAFTA talks: right on!

Karen Briere, Bruce Dyck, Barb Glen, Brian MacLeod and Michael Raine collaborate in the writing of Western Producer editorials.


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