“I get into Air Force One, the televisions on, and I see a news conference being given by Trudeau,” Trump said of leaving the G-7 summit held in Canada this weekend. “And then he talked about how they won’t be bullied. And I said, ‘What’s this all about? He didn’t do that to my face, what’s this all about?’”
He added: “I actually like Justin, you know, I think he’s good, I like him, but he shouldn’t have done that. That was a mistake. That’s going to cost him a lot of money.” – USA President Donald Trump
These comments from the President of the United States have been the largest issue in Ottawa and elsewhere this past week.
It is deeply alarming that the President of the United States is threatening to financially punish Canada at the trade table, in large part because he disagrees with the comments of Prime Minister Trudeau at a news conference.
In my view this is completely unacceptable.
If this threat is carried out in any way, it could seriously compromise what has otherwise been an extremely successful relationship between two world leading countries.
If there is an upside, recently we also witnessed a historic event where President Trump concluded what many view as successful talks with North Korea that may denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
I mention this as it was not so many months ago that relations between the US President and the leader of North Korea were far more adversarial and most would agree considerable progress has made towards a more constructive relationship.
What can Canada do?
As I have stated in the past, if there is one area where I believe our Prime Minister and his administration have worked very proactively, it has been to maintain positive relations with the United States administration.
I believe this work will continue and some success will result from these efforts.
The greater challenge is that the United States administration is aggressively pursuing an economic agenda that has been successful in increasing investment and lowering unemployment to record lows.
US corporate taxes have been significantly reduced and resource development has been accelerated.
Here in Canada, costs of doing business have increased.
The carbon tax, that the USA does not have, continues to rise.
CPP, which is often referred to as an employment tax, is also steadily increasing.
Locally in provinces like British Columbia, a new health employer’s tax will have a similar impact.
Upper income brackets have been increased both provincially and federally and many tax credits used by families and students have been eliminated.
All of these factors combined are making Canada less competitive compared to the United States.
Aside from those measures, Canada still does not have true inter-Provincial free trade.
For example, a winery in BC still cannot directly sell to consumers in many Canadian provinces.
A competing winery located in Washington State can directly ship to customers all across the United States.
Why do I mention all of these things?
With the current uncertainty over the NAFTA negotiations, there are plenty of other areas where the Federal Government can take a leadership role and actively work with provinces to lower costs instead of continuing to increase them, as has been the case to date.
My question this week:
Do you agree? In the absence of success at the NAFTA table should the Federal Liberal Government actively and aggressively take measures to increase Canadian competitiveness?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl,gc,ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.