Last week, Stephen Harper sent a memo to clients of his firm, Harper and Associates. The memo was titled "Napping on NAFTA." The Toronto Sun
The memo was obtained by The Canadian Press and it criticizes the Trudeau government in several areas: For too quickly rejecting U.S. proposals, for insisting on negotiating alongside Mexico, and for promoting progressive priorities like labour, gender, aboriginal and environmental issues.
The former prime minister says he was worried by what he heard during a recent trip to Washington, where he discussed NAFTA at an event but did not publicly share his misgivings about the Trudeau government.
"I fear that the NAFTA re-negotiation is going very badly. I also believe that President (Donald) Trump’s threat to terminate NAFTA is not a bluff… I believe this threat is real," [he wrote.] "Therefore, Canada’s government needs to get its head around this reality: it does not matter whether current American proposals are worse than what we have now. What matters in evaluating them is whether it is worth having a trade agreement with the Americans or not."
Michael Harris -- who has been on Justin's case of late:
“It does not matter whether current American proposals are worse than what we have now,” Harper wrote.
Of course it matters very much. It also shows Harper at his Yankee-Doodle-Dandy worst, a man willing to accept a bad deal just to make a deal. By contrast, the Liberals have been solid on standing up for Canada’s interests here, including cleverly ignoring taunts and outrageous demands designed to make our negotiators throw up their hands and walk out of the talks. That’s what the Americans were doing when they demanded the end of supply management in this country for dairy, poultry, and eggs.
And Harris gives Trudeau credit for standing along side Mexico:
The Liberals have also been wise to stand with Mexico, rather than throw that country under the bus, as Harper would undoubtedly have done to mollify Trump. The Liberal move will not only improve the relationship with Mexico, but with countries around the world who will view it as proof that Canada sticks by its friends. No matter how tempting it would be to betray them when the going gets tough, or someone proffers forty pieces of silver.
Harris is betting that Trudeau will walk away if he has to -- because he has no illusions about Trump:
If Trudeau is authentic in how he presents himself to Canadians, he should be civil, diplomatic but personally less engaged. After all, you could not make up a less fitting pal for him that Donald Trump — braggart, bully, misogynist and liar.
Once you subtract the aura of office from Trump, you are left with an Il Duce billionaire out to blow up the system of checks and balances designed specifically to prevent a person like him from abusing power.
Trump’s goal, obvious to all but the most gullible, the greedy and the ghastly, is to turn America into a franchise of the super wealthy. That’s why his idea of tax reform would send 80 per cent of the benefits to the wealthy, and pay for it by cutting services to those that need them.
That doesn't seem obvious to Trump's base. And it doesn't seem obvious to Stephen Harper.