Archive | Canadian Politics

Trudeau says it’s ‘unfortunate’ conservative politicians don’t agree with carbon tax

Posted on 10 October 2018 by admin

Justin Trudeau is lamenting certain conservative politicians’ views on climate change, as Ontario Premier Doug Ford is rallying against the carbon tax in Western Canada.

“It’s unfortunate to see that there are still politicians, conservative politicians specifically, across the country who still think pollution should be free,” Trudeau said Friday, speaking at a press conference for the Gordie Howe Bridge in Windsor.

The comments also come in the wake of news that Manitoba pulled its plan to start charging a $25-per-tonne carbon tax this fall.

Premier Brian Pallister said he was backing off because he could not get Ottawa to promise it wouldn’t force Manitoba to raise that price to $30 in 2020, $40 in 2021 and then to $50 in 2022.

Now, Manitoba will have a carbon tax of $20 per tonne applied by Ottawa starting Jan. 1. It joins other provinces like Ontario and Saskatchewan, which don’t have a plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Ottawa is currently reviewing proposals from P.E.I. and New Brunswick. If their proposals don’t pass the government’s scrutiny, they, too, will be subject to the federal carbon tax.

At a press conference Thursday, Ford and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe spoke out against the carbon tax. Moe has vowed to fight the carbon tax in court.

“Justin Trudeau should stop holding the people of this country hostage, businesses hostage, families hostage on a carbon tax,” Ford said. “It’s a job-killing tax.”

Ford said the tax doesn’t let Canada be competitive in the world market because they are competing against countries like China and India.

Ford will attend an anti-carbon tax rally in Alberta on Friday with United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenny.

The two premiers say the drive to kill the carbon tax is gaining steam, but Trudeau says the federal government will be there to stop it.

“If, as we’ve seen, a number of people don’t want to fight climate change, don’t have a concrete plan to do that, Canadians are counting on the federal government to do that,” Trudeau said.

“Climate change represents a real threat to us now with wildfires and floods and extreme weather events being more and more frequent and more costly.”

Trudeau also said Canadians should put pressure on politicians who aren’t fighting climate change.

“I think people need to ask folks who are refusing to fight climate change, refusing to put a real plan on board, why they aren’t thinking about future generations, why they aren’t committed to being part of the most economic and social and geographic challenges of our times.”

 

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Canada adds 63K jobs in September, unemployment rate dips to 5.9%

Posted on 10 October 2018 by admin

The Canadian economy added 63,300 jobs in September, pushing the unemployment rate slightly lower to 5.9 per cent.

The data release caps three months of wild swings. Last month’s blockbuster labour market results come after a net loss of nearly 52,000 positions in August and a gain of over 54,000 jobs in July.

This kind of seesawing is unusual even for Canada’s notoriously volatile jobs numbers and surprised economists, who had expected much more modest employment gains in September.

The job number “blew past expectations,” Royce Mendes, director and senior economist for CIBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients.

But the report “hid some softer details,” he added.

The job gains came from the part-time sector, “taking some of the shine off of the headline reading.” Part-time positions were up by around 80,000, the data shows.

Hourly earnings also grew at a slower pace, climbing just 2.4 per cent year-over-year compared to 2.6 per cent in August. and a peak of 3.3 per cent at the start of the year, Douglas Porter, chief economists at BMO Financial Group, wrote.

Regionally, seven provinces saw job gains in September, with Ontario and B.C. adding 36,000 and 33,000 net new positions, respectively. B.C.’s unemployment rate now stands at just 4.2 per cent, by far the lowest in the country, Porter noted. But the jobless rate dropped across the Atlantic provinces as well, down to 7.9 per cent and 7.8 per cent from 8.3 per cent and 8.4 per cent in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Bucking the trend, Alberta saw its unemployment rate edge up to 7 per cent, still significantly lower than the 7.8 per cent recorded a year ago.

The job gains were concentrated in the private sector and particularly the construction industry.

On a year-over-year basis, Canada has gained 222,000 jobs since September 2017.  And the labour force survey found that all of the job gains were made by workers in the core 25-to-54 age range with virtually no change in youth employment.

“The main point is that employment is still growing faster than the underlying labour force, cutting into slack and supporting decent income gains,” Porter wrote. “On balance, this simply reinforces the likelihood of an October [Bank of Canada] rate hike, and keeps a firm foundation on further moves in 2019.”

 

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Doug Ford, Scott Moe say fight against carbon tax building steam

Posted on 10 October 2018 by admin

The premiers of Saskatchewan and Ontario welcomed another province into their anti-carbon-tax tent on Thursday and said the fight against Ottawa’s plan to put a price on pollution is gaining momentum.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced on Wednesday that his province will not be going ahead with a $25-a-tonne levy that was to come into effect in December. He said the province was pulling out because Ottawa has not backed down from its intention to bring in its own higher rate.

“We have common ground in our opposition to the federal government’s attempted imposition of a carbon tax,” Moe said after a meeting with Ford in Saskatoon.

“It’s clear that opposition to this ill-advised, destructive policy is growing across the nation.”

The federal Conservatives couldn’t contain their delight either at Pallister’s move.

MP James Bezan tweeted congratulations for joining “the anti-carbon tax team!”

His fellow Manitoba MP, Candice Bergen, said her party had not pressured the province’s Progressive Conservative premier to change his mind but was “pleasantly surprised” when he did so.

Moe and Ford met Thursday to talk about their economic ties as well as what Ford called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s job-killing and “nasty, nasty tax.”

The two conservative leaders said they will continue to fight the tax together and, to that end, Moe announced Saskatchewan will file for intervener status in Ontario’s court challenge of the federal government’s carbon-pricing plan.

Ontario had already pledged to support Saskatchewan’s challenge when the premiers met in New Brunswick in July. Moe’s government has asked Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal to rule on whether the federal plan is constitutional.

“Saskatchewan and Ontario will continue to be strong allies in the fight against a destructive, made-in-Ottawa carbon tax that does nothing for our environment and is a direct cost to businesses, jobs and to families,” Moe said.

Ford also spoke in glowing terms of Jason Kenney, “our friend in Alberta,” who he said has been fighting carbon pricing since his days as a federal Conservative cabinet minister.

Ford is to speak Friday at a Scrap The Carbon Tax Rally‘ in Calgary at the invitation of Kenney, who is leader of Alberta’s Opposition United Conservatives.

Kenney has promised to repeal Alberta’s carbon tax if his party wins next spring’s provincial election.

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Details of U.S.-Mexico trade deal won’t be released so that Canada has more time

Posted on 03 October 2018 by admin

The text of the Trump administration’s trade agreement with Mexico is due to be released on Friday, launching a contentious U.S. approval process as pressure mounts on Canada to join its partners in revamping the NAFTA pact.

Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo was scheduled to present the text of the Aug. 27 agreement, which aims to rebalance auto trade and modernize parts of NAFTA, to Mexico’s Senate at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT), Mexican government and Senate sources said.

Mexican Senator Ricardo Monreal said on Twitter the text will be released simultaneously in Mexico and the United States.

A Trump administration official and U.S. congressional aides said it would be released on Friday, but a spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer declined to comment on the timing.

U.S. lawmakers briefed by Lighthizer on Thursday said they expected the text to largely exclude language related to Canada, a key U.S. trading partner and the third member of NAFTA, which underpins $1.2 trillion in trade between the three nations.

They expressed hope Canada would join in a trilateral trade deal, but were not optimistic it would happen quickly. Several weeks of U.S.-Canada talks in Washington have failed to overcome divisions over dairy trade and how to settle future disputes.

Some U.S. Democratic lawmakers said they could not support a NAFTA deal without Canada.

“Canada is exceptionally important. I think it would be malpractice, both for economic and political reasons, not to have a major agreement with Canada,” said Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the tax and trade Senate Finance Committee.

“I think leaving Canada out of a new deal amounts to the Trump administration surrendering on fixing NAFTA.” Wyden is from Oregon, a state that trades more with Canada than Mexico.

President Donald Trump, a Republican who blames the 1994 NAFTA pact for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs, trumpeted the deal with Mexico as a win for Americans and threatened to close the door on Canada if it did not sign on by Sept. 30.

Trump also floated slapping auto tariffs on Canada, a move that could sow disarray in supply chains, take the wind out of the sails of a resurgent Canadian economy and rattle investors already unnerved by an escalating U.S.-China trade war.

Canada’s Liberal government says it does not feel bound by the latest NAFTA deadline, and it repeated on Friday that it would not bow to U.S. pressure to sign a quick deal.

“We are in a very tough negotiation with the United States over NAFTA … there is no deadline on this. As far as we are concerned we want a deal that is good for Canadians and that’s the bottom line,” Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters in Ottawa.

The text of the U.S.-Mexico deal needs to be published by late Sunday night – 60 days ahead of a Nov. 30 deadline for Trump and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto to sign the deal before a new Mexican president takes office on Dec. 1.

It will flesh out an agreement in principle that aims to rebalance automotive trade between the two countries and update NAFTA with new chapters on digital trade and stronger labor and environmental standards.

It is expected to conform to details previously released on tighter auto rules requiring an increase in regional value content to 75 percent from 62.5 percent previously, with 40 percent to 45 percent coming from “high wage” areas, effectively the United States.

Auto industry executives say it is unlikely those targets can be met if Canada is not part of the deal, given supply chains that crisscross NAFTA borders multiple times.

Details also are expected on a side-letter that preserves the Trump administration’s ability to impose global national security tariffs on imports of autos and auto parts, granting Mexico a quota for tariff-free exports to the United States that allows some expansion of production.

And more light is likely to be shed on the enforcement of new labor standards and trade dispute settlement arrangements. The United States has said Mexico agreed to eliminate a system of settlement panels to arbitrate disputes over anti-dumping and anti-dumping tariffs.

But a Mexican source close to the talks said the United States had in turn agreed to drop a demand for tariffs to protect U.S. seasonal produce growers.

Mexico also secured an exemption from U.S. “global safeguard” tariffs such as those imposed in January on washing machines and solar panels, the source said. Mexican-made products were hit by those actions, which were aimed at protecting U.S. producers from import surges.

The release of the trade deal text starts a months-long process for U.S. congressional approval that will require a lengthy analysis by the independent U.S. international Trade Commission and notification periods before an up-or-down vote.

Lawmakers briefed by Lighthizer said he told them the earliest a vote could occur, either on a U.S.-Mexico deal or a trilateral deal including Canada, would be February or March 2019, after the U.S. Congress elected in November is sworn in.

Democrats could significantly strengthen their ranks in the November elections or even take control of the House of Representatives, which would put them in a position to potentially block parts of Trump’s agenda.

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‘What are we? A banana republic?’: Saudi Arabia wants apology from Canada over diplomatic row

Posted on 03 October 2018 by admin

Saudi Arabia‘s foreign minister asked Canada to apologize for demanding the release of Saudi women’s rights activists and stop treating the kingdom as “a banana republic” if it wanted to resolve a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

In August, Saudi Arabia froze new trade with Canada, blocked grain imports, expelled Canada’s ambassador and ordered all Saudi students home after Ottawa called for the release of activists detained for urging more rights for women.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Tuesday she hoped to meet with her Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir this week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

“It is outrageous from our perspective that a country will sit there and lecture us and make demands … We demand the immediate release and independence of Quebec, granting of equal rights to Canadian Indians. What on earth are you talking about?,” al-Jubeir said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Wednesday night.

“You can criticize us about human rights, women’s rights … others do and that’s your right. You can sit down and talk about it, but demand the immediate release? What are we a banana republic? Would any country accept it? No! We don’t,” al-Jubeir said.

The dispute arose from Canada’s criticism over the arrests, including that of prominent women’s rights campaigner Samar Badawi. Her brother Raif Badawi, a prominent blogger, is serving a 10-year sentence and has been publicly flogged for expressing dissenting opinions online. His wife and children live in Canada and are Canadian citizens.

A number of women’s rights activists, who campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the kingdom’s male guardianship system, have been targeted in a government crackdown in recent months, human rights’ groups say.

 “We don’t want to be a political football in Canada’s domestic politics. Find another ball to play with. It’s very easy to fix. Apologize and say you made a mistake,” al-Jubeir said.

Freeland said on Tuesday that Ottawa would not be changing its fundamental position.

“Canada will always stand up for human rights … we feel a particular obligation to women who are fighting for their rights around the world,” she said. “And we feel a particular obligation to people who have a personal connection to Canada.”

Germany and Saudi Arabia agreed earlier this week to end a diplomatic dispute. The spat started last November when Germany’s foreign minister at the time, Sigmar Gabriel, condemned “adventurism” in the Middle East, comments seen as an attack on increasingly assertive Saudi policies, notably in Yemen.

 

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Canada sets eyes on Mars, calls on companies to develop future space technologies

Posted on 03 October 2018 by admin

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

The Canadian Space Agency issued the tender this week for projects that will put Canada in a position to contribute to future space missions involving human and robotic exploration of the moon.

The idea is to demonstrate technologies at agency headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Que., next year with possible follow-up testing in the Canary Islands in 2020.

Canada is already quietly working with space agencies in Europe, Japan and the United States on the next phases of exploring the final frontier.

As a step toward a mission to Mars, U.S. space agency NASA is spearheading the Lunar Gateway, an outpost that would orbit the moon. Through the Gateway, four astronauts would have access to the moon’s surface for weeks at a time to carry out experiments and exploration.

There is already talk of Canada contributing an advanced moon rover for future missions.

“The next focus for exploration is to move deeper into space, to go to the moon and to Mars,” said Mike Greenley, group president of MDA, a leading space technology firm.

“And so the next series of projects, over the next five to seven years, will be to get back to the moon, and then over the next 12 to 15 years, to move beyond that to Mars. ”

Canada has a long history of space involvement dating from the 1962 launch of satellite Alouette I to study the ionosphere. Since 1984, eight Canadian astronauts have taken part in 16 missions, and the Canadarm established the country as a leader in space robotics.

The latest tender allows the industry to propose projects including, but not limited to:

•          Lunar rover power systems and wheels;

•          Rover guidance, navigation and control;

•          Communications systems for use on the moon;

•          Lunar drilling and sample acquisition;

•          Approaches to lunar prospecting.

The agency’s effort to engage industry is an encouraging sign of Canada’s interest in taking part in the next generation of lunar exploration, said Greenley.

As the Lunar Gateway project gets underway, Greenley expects international partners to call on Canada – given its expertise – to contribute artificial intelligence-based robotics to help build and operate the new orbiting station.

There will also be opportunities for Canada to take part in activities on the lunar surface – for instance by designing and building rovers and assisting with space mining, which will be key to extracting needed resources for a budding moon colony, he said.

A coalition of space-sector players including MDA recently launched a campaign – #DontLetGoCanada – to try to raise awareness of the country’s accomplishments in space and the benefits that flow from federal spending and support.

Greenley would like Canada to come up with a comprehensive space strategy to build on areas of traditional strength like robotics, rovers and space medicine.

“These are investments that would be substantial in size, but over a 15-year period or more,” he said.

“Canadians are very proud of our participation in space historically. So the support’s there for investment.”

 

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Bill Blair apologizes, corrects remark saying ‘overwhelming majority’ of asylum seekers have left

Posted on 03 October 2018 by admin

Border Security Minister Bill Blair has apologized and corrected a statement he made last week claiming most asylum seekers who crossed the border in a surge last year have left the country.

In an interview that aired on Sunday with The West Block, Blair was asked about how the government has been working to deal with the surge of more than 32,000 migrants who have walked across the border over the last year and a half to make asylum claims in Canada, and whether the government knows where all of them are now.

Despite data from the Canadian Border Services Agency indicating only 398 of the 32,173 people who crossed the U.S. border irregularly into Canada between April 2017 and August 2018 had actually been deported, Blair stated the opposite.

“I will tell you that we did experience a surge of people last year,” Blair told The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson.

“We found a very small percentage of them were actually eligible to stay, and the overwhelming majority of those people have left.”

 “Minister Blair would like to clarify that he was referring to a small cohort of failed claimant asylum seekers,” said press secretary Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux.

Blair’s apology from his tweet was included below that in the press release.

“I clearly misspoke in suggesting the majority who arrived last year have left. They have not. They await disposition of their claim. Sorry for the obvious confusion that I caused,” Blair said.

Cadieux said he was referring to people who had “left the Lacolle facility.”

When asked to provide numbers that demonstrated that, Cadieux quoted numbers from the Canada Border Services Agency saying that the number of irregular migrant removals in 2017/2018 was 240 and the removals in 2018/2019 were 214.

Of those, she said, the irregular/failed claimant removal subset stood at 125 and 127 in those same years.

“Note that not all those who have arrived in recent years have finished their processes that would ultimately lead to a removal,” she wrote in an email.

“This is what the minister is referring to when he says the ‘the overwhelming majority of those people have left.’ The others are still going through the process.”

However, the response and the minister’s remarks prompted a swift backlash from critics online.

The issue of how to handle irregular border crossings has been a lightning rod between Liberals and Conservatives over the past year and a half.

Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel has repeatedly accused the government of not having a plan to deal with the surge, which has come amid an increasingly anti-immigrant climate in the United States.

Rempel has also called for the government to negotiate with the U.S. to apply the Safe Third Country Agreement to the entire border.

That agreement between Canada and the U.S. essentially states that both countries recognize each other as safe countries for people to make asylum claims and as a result, each will not consider claims made from someone who first lands in Canada, for example, but then decides to try to make a claim in the U.S.

However, that agreement only applies to migrants who attempt to cross the border at official checkpoints.

Irregular crossers, once intercepted by RCMP after crossing at unofficial points along the border, can make an asylum claim despite crossing from the U.S.

That loophole has been a major source of criticism since the surge began, and Blair told the House of Commons last week he has made attempts to discuss the matter with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

In late August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was heckled during an event in Quebec by a woman asking him when the federal government would reimburse the provincial government for the costs of dealing with the irregular migrants.

He accused her of “intolerance.”

When she confronted him a second time following the event to ask whether he respects “true stock Quebecois,” he told her, “your racism has no place here.”

Trudeau was unapologetic for his accusations when questioned about them afterwards.

“I will not flinch from highlighting when the politics of division, of fear, of spreading misinformation is actually harming the fabric of this country,” he said.

“The fact is, we have a situation where there are irregular arrivals coming across our border into Canada … People who are trying to make this sound like a crisis are playing exactly the politics of fear and intolerance.”

 

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Trudeau says his focus during U.S. trade talks is ‘not escalating’

Posted on 03 October 2018 by admin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered some insight into Canada’s approach to trade talks during an armchair discussion at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Trudeau, along with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Trade Minister Jim Carr, participated in the discussion Tuesday morning, which centred on Canada’s global outlook.

Asked about how Trudeau responds to Canada being labelled a “national security threat” to the U.S., which was the context for U.S. President Donald Trump slapping tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, Trudeau said he was trying to keep a cordial relationship with the U.S.

“My focus on this throughout is simply: not escalating,” Trudeau said. “Not opining, not weighing in. My job is very simple — it’s to defend Canadians’ interest … in order to defend Canadians’ interests having a constructive relationship with the president, with the United States administration, while choosing to not escalate or respond in kind is something we need to do.”

He did point out that Canada has responded to the tariffs with retaliatory tariffs, because “we cannot simply accept punitive tariffs without a bit of balance there.”

“You have to remember that the relationship between Canada and the United States is far deeper than between the Canadian government and the American administration.”

Trudeau said the steel and aluminum tariffs, along with the threat of auto tariffs, are “a tool that the president has to use, and he is using them because he has a sense that there are other tools that have to go through Congress that he doesn’t get to use,” but that Canada wasn’t seriously considered a security threat in the traditional way.

“Using 232 around security, they make an argument around economic security, and economic sovereignty and there’s no perception that Canada can be an actual threat in a military or in the way that one usually perceived ‘national security.’”

NAFTA negotiations

While there are no official trade negotiations going on at the assembly, Trudeau has previously said negotiators are “very likely” to hold informal talks on the sidelines of the UN meeting.

The U.S. and Mexico have agreed to a bilateral deal while Canada is still left at the table.

“They (the United States and Mexico) made certain agreements. I think there’s a possibility there to build on what they agreed,” Trudeau said when asked whether the U.S.-Mexican deal might form the basis of a three-nation pact.

 “But we know Canada’s interests are what we have to stand up for … we are looking for the right deal, not just for Canada but for the United States.”

Later Tuesday, U.S. trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer said there was still a lot of “distance” between Canada and the U.S. in regards to NAFTA.

“The fact is, Canada is not making concessions in areas where we think they’re essential,” Lighthizer said. “We’re going to go ahead with Mexico. If Canada comes along now, that would be the best. If Canada comes along later, then that’s what’ll happen.”

Carr also said Canada is “working very hard to sign other trade” agreements.

 

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Trump says Canada not in a ‘good trade position’ as NAFTA talks drag on

Posted on 29 September 2018 by admin

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters that Canada cannot keep charging the United States “300 per cent” on dairy products.

In the midst of tense NAFTA negotiations between the United States and Canada, negotiators have been tight-lipped about the progress of the talks, and especially on the progress on key issues like supply management and Chapter 19.

Following a meeting with the Polish President Andrzej Duda, Trump took several questions from reporters about NAFTA, as well as on sexual misconduct allegations against his Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and American relations with Poland.

On NAFTA, Trump said that “Canada has taken advantage of our country for a long time.”

 ‘We love Canada, we love the people of Canada, but they are in a position that’s not a good trade position for Canada,” he added. Trump also reiterated that the U.S. and Mexico had reached a tentative trade deal, which seemingly kicked NAFTA talks into overdrive.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has been back and forth to Washington in recent weeks as pressure mounts on the Canadian government to bring home a deal.

However, she’s often repeated the position of the Liberal government: “No deal is better than a bad deal.”

While she spoke to reporters on Tuesday, Freeland insisted that the environment around negotiations is one of “good will and good faith,” but that Canada is fully prepared to walk away from NAFTA if a deal satisfactory to all parties cannot be reached.

However, she ended on a commonly made point, saying that “one of Canada’s national characteristics is a talent for compromise.”

Canada’s supply management system for dairy and poultry products has been a sticking point in the plot of the NAFTA saga. Under the system, the government regulates production or supply of various dairy and poultry products and allocates production quotas to farmers. High tariffs make it impossible for a pizza maker in Canada, for example, to import cheese for that pizza that is not created from milk produced under Canada’s quota system.

Trump has repeatedly criticized Canada’s dairy policy and repeated this complaint on Tuesday afternoon.

“They cannot continue to charge us 300 per cent tariff on dairy products, and that’s what they’re doing,” he said.

But despite those tariffs, the United States last year ran a $474 million trade surplus in dairy products with Canada. U.S. farmers solds $636 million in dairy products to Canada while Canadian farmers sold just $162 million worth of dairy products to U.S. customers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And dairy is barely a blip — 0.1 per cent — in U.S.-Canada trade, which amounted to $680 billion last year.

The president doesn’t seem to be the only American official frustrated with Canada’s approach to NAFTA negotiations, however. In a statement released to the U.S. website Politico, house majority whip Steven Scalise said there is a “growing frustration” among Congress with Canada’s “negotiating tactics.”

He added that Canada didn’t seem willing to “make any concessions” to achieve a deal.

NAFTA talks have been ongoing for 13 months now and little is known about how much longer they’ll continue — as loosely-set deadlines continue to slide by. Freeland will return to Washington later this week to resume negotiations.

 

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Trudeau is campaigning to join the UN Security Council — but does Canada stand a chance?

Posted on 29 September 2018 by admin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in New York this week lobbying to join the United Nations Security Council, even though the vote isn’t until 2021.

Trudeau begins his three-day visit to the UN General Assembly on Monday, where he will schmooze with other nations in order to try and gain a seat on the Security Council for a two-year term starting in 2021.

The members of the General Assembly won’t vote on the candidates until the fall of 2020, but Trudeau is still hoping to secure one of the two open seats, and of course, will have to win another federal election in 2019 if he wants to personally see Canada do it.

It’s been 21 years since Canada’s last stint on the Security Council, the country’s longest absence from it in United Nations’ history. So do we stand a chance now?

Why does Canada want on the Security Council?

The UN Security Council has 15 members, with five permanent seats — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. — and 10 non-permanent rotating ones.

The UN itself consists of 178 other countries that aren’t part of the Security Council, which means they can participate but they don’t get a vote when it comes to making decisions.

Being part of the Security Council means you get to vote on issues such as suspending economic and diplomatic relations between countries, imposing blockades, and authorizing the use of armed force.

Members are also more likely to receive foreign aid and World Bank loans with relatively soft conditions, according to a study from the University of Munich.

“There is also a prestige aspect to it,” Jane Boulden, professor of political science at the Royal Military College of Canada, said. “It sends an international signal that Canada is back to playing that kind of role, to put us back on the international scene.”

Until 2000, Canada had obtained a seat on the Security Council in each decade of the UN’s existence. Canada has also never lost a bid, until 2010 when Stephen Harper’s government attempted it but lost to Portugal.

After Canada announced its bid for the seat in 2016, Trudeau campaigned on a pledge that “Canada is back” on the world stage.

According to Trudeau, not only do “Canadians benefit when we have time on the Security Council,” but that “the world benefits when Canada has a voice on the Security Council.”

Who is Canada up against?

Canada is up against Ireland and Norway for the 2021 seat.

“It’s tough competition, there is no question about that,” Boulden said. “Ireland and Norway have more recent peacekeeping credentials in the last 10 years. And they have much higher foreign aid contributions.”

According to briefing memos prepared by Global Affairs Canada, Ireland is the competition to look out for.

 “Ireland is currently running for one of two open seats on the UN Security Council for the 2021-22, against Canada and Norway,” reads the December 2017 note.

“Ireland won on the first ballot when it competed against Norway and Italy for a seat for 2001-02, and Irish officials are privately confident that their campaign will be equally successful this time.”

Ireland won its last bid for a seat in 2001 by a landslide.

Ireland also commits more in foreign aid, something scholars have said could influence Security Council membership.

According to data collected by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) using GNI (gross national income) as a benchmark, Irish foreign aid accounts for 0.36 per cent of its annual budget while Canada’s accounts for 0.28 per cent.

That puts Ireland as the 12th largest donor when it comes to foreign aid, and Canada the 14th.

The number of peacekeeping troops a country donates could also be a factor. The study from the University of Munich showed that the more troops a country contributes, the more likely it is to gain Security Council membership.

According to an August 2018 UN report on peacekeepers, Ireland has contributed the most troops, at 521. Canada has contributed 173 peacekeepers and Norway, 67.

What are the costs?

It can cost millions of dollars to put up a bid for the Security Council, which goes towards paying for staff salaries and wining and dining other nations.

“It costs a lot of money to campaign,” Boulden said. “There are certainly add-on costs too. Trudeau would probably not be in New York for three days otherwise. Travelling and liaising add up.”

When Canada campaigned for a seat on the Security Council in 2010, it cost nearly $1 million to fly diplomats around the world — and it was not even a successful bid.

Documents show thousands of dollars were spent entertaining foreign diplomats and U.S. officials, including a visit to a New York Yankees game with Cuban, Thai, Bosnian, Sri Lankan and Cambodian representatives. Canada also picked up tickets to take officials from Oman, Brunei, the Philippines and Italy to see the Cirque du Soleil.

Global Affairs Canada said that the government has spent $532,780 since 2016 on its campaign to land a Security Council seat — well behind the pace of the $1.9 million Canada spent over four years to win its last two-year term in 1999-2000.

Does Canada stand a chance?

Canada’s campaign to win a two-year temporary seat on the Security Council will also be under scrutiny with many questioning whether it is even feasible given the energy being expended to save the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Paul Heinbecker, who was Canada’s UN ambassador during the 2000 stint on the council, said the western group is more competitive than any other, and Canada faces a tough battle, especially in Europe.

Lloyd Axworthy, Canada’s foreign affairs minister in the late 1990s, said Canada has lost standing at the UN over the last decade and needs to work hard to regain it.

He said Trudeau needs to come up with an agenda that shows a commitment to peacekeeping, which Canada has largely abandoned, as well as foreign aid, which has been declining steadily.

“Canada still has a strong reputation in the international community and we are making a real effort, which could help,” Boulden said. “One way that we are different is that we are not a European nation. So we could say pick a Europe nation and Canada in order to regionalize it.”

 

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