- Harper has successfully launched and concluded nine (9) trade agreements since he took power in 2006 and has another soon to be signed and two more in early negotiations.
- No hanging with Bionce and Jay Zee at late night parties, no schmoozing Barbara Walters and Whoopie Goldberg on The View, no $26 million Hawiian vacations, just focused, disciplined, effective work on behalf of Canada which has helped to lead this country for the first time since the carnage of the Trudeau years almost wrecked the economy to unquestioned superiority over the United States in every performance indicator concerning the economy and public finances.
- Obama, why he hasn't even started to try to negotiate a single free trade treaty with anyone and will probably fail to negotiate any such agreements between now and when he finally leaves office in January of 2017.
- But hey, did you see him on Letterman? He's entertaining and that's all the morons ask him to be.
Canada could gain as Obama reaches to Europe on trade
By David Akin ,Parliamentary Bureau Chief First posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 05:07 PM EST | Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 06:25 PM EST
OTTAWA - U.S. President Barack Obama used 6,456 words to deliver his state of the union speech Tuesday night and not one of them was "Canada."
But these 37 words - delivered about two-thirds of the way through his speech - could have a very big impact on Obama's unnamed northern neighbour.
"Tonight," he said, "I am announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union - because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs."
That's big news here because Canada is in the last stages of negotiating its own free trade agreement with the European Union for the very same reason. A Canada-EU trade deal that Ottawa says will pump an extra $12 billion a year into our economy and generate an additional 80,000 jobs.
Canadian and EU officials have been working on this deal for nearly four years but both government insiders and trade experts believe it will be done soon, perhaps by the middle of this year.
But Peter Clark, an Ottawa-based trade expert, said Obama's announcement could be a "net negative" for Canada because European negotiators could now threaten to drop Canada-EU talks in favour of U.S.-EU talks if Canada doesn't give up what the Europeans want.
But other trade experts say Obama's announcement works in Canada's favour because a Canada-EU deal will be a template for the U.S.-EU deal. Certainly, the U.S. is closely monitoring Canada's talks with Europe. The Europeans know that a failure to ink a deal with Canada would not bode well for American prospects.
"We're the smaller prize, not the bigger prize," Jean-Michel Laurin of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters said.
If Europe wants that big prize, the pressure is on their negotiators to prove they can be free traders - and that gives Canadian negotiators some leverage.
That said, there is considerable doubt that Obama will ever be able to make good on a U.S.-EU deal.
Obama does not have much of a track record on the trade file. This U.S.-EU idea is the first free trade initiative to begin on his watch. Others, like the ambitious Trans Pacific Partnership, got going under earlier administrations.
There are legitimate questions as well about Obama's and America's commitment to free trade. When the going got rough during the recession, for instance, Congress quickly turned protectionist with its "Buy America" provisions that shut out Canadian companies from much federal, state and municipal business.
By contrast, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has signed nine trade deals since 2006, is close to one with Europe, and has trade negotiations underway with both India and Japan.
Not only that, but while Obama was putting up trade barriers in response to the recession, the Harper government unilaterally dropped hundreds of tariffs on goods acquired abroad by Canadian industry - all in the name of making Canadian industry more productive.
"Obama and Stephen Harper are not the same person. Harper is an economist who says, let the market decide. But if there's an American group that says this is going to cost American jobs, Obama's not going to push," a Bay Street international trade expert told me Thursday.
"It comes down to personalities because you have to invest political capital to get the deal done. Harper believes in this type of stuff. Obama? Who knows if he believes in it? Issues of the economy and trade seem to be a bit of an afterthought to him."
So, until Obama makes good on his word to strike a pact with Europe -- and if Canada can seal the Euro deal - Canada will be in the enviable spot as the only major industrialized country to have free trade deals with both the U.S. and Europe.
That will be good for Canadian prosperity, Canadians jobs - and will be a vindication of the Harper's government's aggressive trade agenda.