Free Trade seems only to be defined as free only going one way.
"After Canada's complete capitulation on the softwood lumber agreement word has probably spread around Washington that we are more than willing to pay tribute on demand."
The Globe and Mail just doesn't get it
by Robert Billyard : 05/09/2006
The lead editorial in the Saturday Sept 2nd edition of the Globe and Mail is titled: The unwelcome landing of another penalty.
For starters, the title is wrong: It should read: The unwelcome landing of more tribute- the Washington Tribute Tax (WTT) that is.
The editorial cries foul as the US has just announced user fees for all Canadian commercial flights, passengers, autos, commercial trucks, vessels, rail cars entering the US, effective in November of this year.
The editorial poses the question: Why are the Americans doing this?
It laments that just as the soft wood lumber agreement has been settled we are hit with yet another "penalty." But this agreement might be the very reason these new fees are being levied. After Canada's complete capitulation on the softwood lumber agreement word has probably spread around Washington that we are more than willing to pay tribute on demand.
Even though The United States Court of International Trade ruled in Canada's favour that the 5.3 billion in duties collected on our softwood lumber were illegal Canada is determined to go ahead with the agreement and leave behind 1.3 billion to buy the peace. It was subsequently announced that 450 million of that money is going into a slush fund for the Republican Party- and strangely enough there is barely a mention of this in Canada's media when there should be national outrage.
The US government is now running record debt and deficits, largely to finance its foreign intrigues and enormous defence spending. The Iraq conflict alone is costing the US treasury about 1.5 billion dollars a week (yes, a week!). George Bush has promised to balance the budget by the time he leaves office (which he has no hope of doing). So we should not be surprised that possibly all US government departments have been ordered to maximize revenues and Canada has become a designated cash cow.
This latest scam could be dealt with through the NAFTA dispute settlement provisions, but as Toronto international trade lawyer Larry Herman points out, quoted in the editorial, "They will not get us very quick relief."
Herman's statement points to the nub of the problem in that the US continually breaches the NAFTA and it appears that Canada's political and business elites are not prepared to do anything about it which only makes a bad situation worse, thus encouraging the US protectionist bully boy. It appears our political elites have given up on NAFTA without the fortitude to insist that it be adhered to, possibly revised, or even cancelled.
International Trade Minister David Emerson assures that he will continue to talk to the Americans but given his less than stellar performance on the softwood lumber agreement Canadians should brace themselves for another licking.
He has the audacity to accuse those opposing the softwood agreement of being "anti-American" which is a rather putrid red herring. The softwood agreement is a bad deal and must been seen as such. A truck load of red herrings won't bury Emerson's incompetence.
To add insult to injury these user fees will also apply to fruits, vegetables and agricultural products exported to the US, supposedly because the US is afraid of bio-terrorism. This is especially galling as Canada's food standards are at least equal to and in many instances higher than those of the US.