Pollyanna goes to Washington.

They gathered in Washington this week to start renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland took along her plans for a new NAFTA. Just to throw another opinion into the mix, I think we might have sent our Pollyanna foreign minister to an autopsy.

While we all listened to Freeland’s grandiose plans for a kinder, gentler NAFTA, the reality is that the Americans want nothing to do with it. From President Trump and down the chain of command, the Americans want nothing other than Advantage America. Fairness has nothing to do with it.

And the first losses for the Canadians will be her schemes to improve environmental standards, gender equality and labour laws. Those will certainly strike the Americans as coming out of left field.

And you can give these people all the irrefutable, scientific and empirical proof you want, you cannot convince them to open up bidding on infrastructure projects at the municipal level for trade partners. Nor should we expect any softening of the restrictions on cross-border movement of professionals while the U.S. remains paranoid about Muslims.

And by no stretch of the imagination should the foreign minister equate the NAFTA negotiations to the remodeling of a kitchen. That is a time when you either become a major source of income for your local Chinese food and pizza delivery people or starve.

And we already know that the Americans want to eliminate the dispute resolution clause in the agreement. What would we trade that for? And just try to face any of your Quebec colleagues when you get back if you give a centimeter on our supply management systems.

We have to remember that “Free” trade is a misnomer. This is negotiated trade and there is nothing but quid pro quos to consider.

And you have to remember that the President of the United States is no economist. He does not understand why the Americans as well as the other two partners have to keep this deal in force. Anyone who walks away from this negotiation will be throwing out the first ball in what could become a world-wide recession.

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