Amigos, meet the elephant.

The so-called Three Amigos met in Ottawa this week. It was nothing more than a public relations exercise. Nothing substantive could be resolved. The American, Canadian and Mexican leaders simply tried to ignore the problems their countries face. They certainly did not want to talk about the elephant in the room; Donald Trump.

With Barack Obama finishing his second term this coming January, there was little he could contribute to the meeting—other than rhetoric. (That was the first time we have ever seen a teleprompter used in the House of Commons.) He is out come January and either Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump will take over. And the chilling prospect of a possible win by Trump in the American elections is not a warm thought for any of the leaders of the three countries.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto had the most to gain in this meeting. With a gross domestic product per capita that is about 20 per cent of each of his northern neighbours, he has the toughest job. In a country noted for corporate corruption, political corruption, police corruption and drug cartels, Mexico’s cheap holidays and cheap labour are not always bargains.

And as a third partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico has the most to benefit from the relations. When political demagogues such as Donald Trump rail against open borders and trade agreements, both Canada and Mexico have reason to be concerned.

The convoluted three-way handshake Justin Trudeau tried to initiate during a photo-op was an excellent example of the relationship between the three countries. Everyone was doing his own thing and all Trudeau could do was hug both of them.

What everyone needs to bear in mind is that Canada and Mexico are very much the junior partners in NAFTA and we are at the mercy of American dominance. For Donald Trump to rail against NAFTA in his speeches shows just how ignorant the man is of the reality. All Canada and Mexico can hope for in NAFTA is a degree of fairness. Both countries are at the mercy of states that pass Buy America and Right to Work (anti-union) laws and the American Congress is complicit.

While Canada can easily sooth the Mexican concerns with this country, Mexico will long remember the walls already built by the U.S. to close out their country. For Trump to say he will have Mexico pay for his wall is not only very silly but a very serious insult.


Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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