, 06.26.2018 12:49 PM

Top ten things Trudeau could have done with Trump™

The Neville Chamberlains and ostriches are filling my inbox.

“Get tough with Trump, eh, Warren?” they bleat.  “That wouldn’t have worked, ever ever!  What would you have done instead?”

It’s a good question.  It’s  fair question.

So, here’s the Top Ten Things Trudeau Should Have Done Instead™:

1. Trudeau should have sought a quicker deal than this (failed) drawn-out process.
2. Trudeau should have given Trump an early win that he could have, er, trumpeted to his supporters.
3. Trudeau should have worked Congress hard with more than just one ambassador – he should have had his whole damn cabinet down there, and himself, signing up congressional support.
4. Trudeau should have more aggressively, and specifically, signed up pro-free-trade Republicans – because the G.O.P. historically has more free traders than the Dems – and because those selfsame Republican free traders are now disproportionately facing mid-term defeat/early retirement.
5. Trudeau should have run a targeted ad campaign in Trump swing states – about Canada supporting America in war, Iran hostages, CanadaArm, supporting them in hard times, etc.
6. Trudeau should have appeared on the media Trump and his core watch – Fox News, etc. – and not the elite media favoured by the McGill Debate Club.
7. Trudeau should have understood that the tax cut was always going to put Trump in a huge deficit/debt situation, one that he would need to offset with tariffs and, ipso facto, get a frigging deal done before the tax cut passed.
8. Trudeau should have shown Trump that he’s not just a wimpy trust fund peacenik – by helping to bomb Syria, or boosting our NATO contribution in the way Trump has been demanding for three years, or whatever – because strongmen only respect strength.
9.  Trudeau should have been more like his father was with guys like Nixon and Reagan, who were elected by the same kind of demographic who elected Trump.  Meaning:


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    Scott in Montreal says:

    1) BS – nothing would have worked. Keeping NAFTA was NEVER on the Trump agenda. Playing for time has been the least-worst response. NEXT!
    2) HE DID!! That Ivanka BS women business leader round table in the WH was exactly that.
    3) I thought they have been hassling Congress like crazy for months now. How much more can we expect? He even deputized Mulroney to jump on board!
    4) through 9) are plausible in a hindsight is 20/20, armchair PM sorta way

    10) see #2 for the clear contradiction.

    Face it; it was a losing battle from the get-go.

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      Karl-Milton Marx-Friedman says:

      Warren Kinsella has some killer points here. The Trudeau playbook needs a Kinsella upgrade.

      Point 6) is like, “boom goes the dynamite!” Why are you talking to Chuck Todd on MSNBC, seriously? Tone deaf much?

      Hard Facts:
      1) Trump knows that instigating a ‘trade war’ is bad for BOTH sides, the threat and short-term pain of a trade war IS LEVERAGE in negotiating NAFTA or a bilateral deal + make Trump look bad-ass in Pennsylvania;
      2) how do you REALLY know if you have a current account deficit or surplus on trade when BOTH bureaucracies claim they are in a surplus? So you break stuff that everyone assumed was sacred…like NATO, NAFTA, Europe, North Korea.
      3) trade between countries is not going away, in fact it’s growing, this is about taking everything apart and then putting it back together: Art of the Deal talks about that.
      4) the more time lawyers in Washington and Ottawa rack up mini-bar tabs, the more economic efficiency is lost. Wrap it up, folks!

      Ronald Dowd is unfortunately wrong; “We have ABSOLUTELY NO CHOICE.” No, you have options, sir!

      For Trudeau, there is a lot he can do. Basically, tariffs and NAFTA are inter-related. So engage in INTEGRATIVE SOLUTIONS. Re: “Getting To Yes: negotiating without give in” What’s integrative negotiations? Ex: Both sides want an tangerine, let’s say. Well, the more you talk the more you realize, one side wants the orange peel for a cake while the other side wants the juicy middle. In order to create those circumstances, a good negotiator reframes what is on the table…

      Going after industries with tariff is actually NOT the correct decision. Tariffs on maple syrup, big pharma, entertainment, mining etc is for optics not integrative solutions.

      Think Integrative: let’s see what happens. Test policy:
      0) Insist on greater investment on American tourism; we need more American tourists; they aren’t spending any money in Canada. This is unacceptable, we let Canadians spend their savings in Florida and then they don’t send Americans to checkout Newfoundland? Get better investment deal for Canadian tourism to ridings that Liberals want to tip in their favour.

      1) Offer free employment mobility US passport holders to Canada in exchange for Canadian access to the US without requiring a Green Card. Not saying full citizenship, but if we are that close then save on paper work costs for that job in Denver or Calgary.

      2) Offer to take the illegal immigrants who entered as refugees from Honduras to Canada. Just offer to take care of these folks, re-unite the families in Canada, in rural areas. Like they are still in transit to Canada, okay?

      3) Offer to stop subsidizing Bombardier, Diary producers for a negotiated 5 year period: government hands off; but…3b)

      3b) Ask for Quebec cheese to have broader market access to the US, in exchange for broader access to Wisconsin’s finest.

      3c) Canadian dairy producers supply management is great for Liberal ridings; Trudeau needs to prevent a Tory surge in Quebec. Can Trump do something for those producers? How could the US grow those dairy producer’s bottom line? Um, no tariffs either side. No subsidies, which is what Trump wants if you understand what’s actually going on. Figure our what our dairy producers need other than monopolistic competition here in Canada. Optically Trudeau can always say Trump forced the supply management re-jig.

      4) Accept the sunset clause as the linch-pin that it ACTUALLY ISN’T: businesses do not need certainty as much as you’d think, in fact look at the financial markets to see that uncertainty = opportunity. ‘The Free Trade Agreement was always cancellable in 6 months.’ -Brian Mulroney

      5) Curb prosecution of Canadians travelling into the US: particularly de facto US border guards need to be lacks on marijuana: don’t prosecute just turn away; (because legalization is going to mean much more harassement).

      6) Arctic Sovereignty: no US ships in Canadian water until we close this chapter on NAFTA.

      7) To get the domestic side fired up for 2019, threaten to annex Southern Florida to protect Canadian citizens from stand your ground legislation. Create a special line for US passport holders and then make them wait longer: call it the Trump Lines.

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    Sean McLaughlin says:

    I’d compare my thinking to second and third term FDR’s strategy–prepare for the worst, stay just a step ahead of public opinion, then strike once you have a clear and undeniable pretext for war–rather than Neville Chamberlain’s, but I do appreciate the credit for inspiring this piece.

    This is a good plan and aggressive ad buys on American TV is the best part of it. The NATO point is a very smart one and something we should do without being told, but bombing a third party country to gain the respect of your primary ally is absolutely despicable. Perhaps with better salesmanship we could’ve given Trump an early win on the Gordie Howe International Bridge (Trump and Trudeau signed a statement on its importance in February 2017), letting him take undeserved credit for pushing along a major infrastructure project of the sort he pitched on the campaign trail. That would’ve been fairly harmless, maybe even a way to get him talking about how much cross border business we do.

    There was nothing wrong with being cordial to Trump et. al. up to the G7, but I too will be livid if there are fake smiles and handshakes the next time he and Trudeau meet. Liberal democrats don’t have the constitution for pre-emptive strikes, and that’s a good thing. Trump has shown that he will not negotiate in good faith, ever, and that he cannot be reigned in by any of his allegedly sober-thinking advisers. We suspected this from the beginning, but now we have proof. Trudeau and Macron tried the same optimistic strategy, but it didn’t have the desired results and there will have to be an adjustment.

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    Scott in Montreal says:

    Anyway, the braindrain north that is already coming will lift this economy up. It is already happening. More immigration, more refugees boosting our population and growing our economy is a very big plus for us to benefit.

    At the same time, we do have to ramp up trade with other nations, and remove intra-provincial trade barriers, as the sane economists recommend. I think the Mango Mussolini is in charge until the end of his time on this earth, sadly. We best get used to it and adjust quickly. I do hope this PM is getting on with that instead of chasing horses long gone from barns.

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    Fred from BC says:

    Those are all very reasonable, potentially effective points, and might indeed have been a winning strategy in the hands of a strong leader.

    Sadly, though, Justin Trudeau is not a strong leader…so he did the only thing he was capable of doing.

    I can only imagine, given his record of gaffes and missteps in his first couple of years as Prime Minister, what the dossier on Justin Trudeau compiled by the Trump administration (complete with all his various nicknames) would have looked like when perused by Donald Trump himself.

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      Ronald O'Dowd says:


      The real fiasco comes from serial softwood capitulations (agreements) based on being absolutely desperate to get whatever we possibly could in the way of an agreement.

      I think we won every single time before the WTO and NAFTA panels and yet political reality in Washington, D.C. forced us to continually settle for an Advantage U.S. agreement.

      Every one of our PMs was willing to do that deal and in hindsight, it was probably a mistake.

      Americans aren’t shy in reminding us that U.S. trade law does not have to comply in the least with WTO or NAFTA trade panel rulings.

      And guess who wants to abolish the NAFTA dispute mechanism panels…apparently, not Canada.

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        Fred from BC says:

        “Every one of our PMs was willing to do that deal and in hindsight, it was probably a mistake. ”

        Absolutely. Being from BC I’m well aware of that, and always wondered why no previous Prime Minister ever threatened to give the required six-month withdrawal notice from NAFTA…but then, I also wondered how the FTA with the USA (which I supported) magically turned into NAFTA, with the USA *and* Mexico (which I could never support).

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          Ronald O'Dowd says:


          The business lobby makes hand over fist more money with Mexico in the mix. They almost get slave wages in Mexico.

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            Fred from BC says:

            Yes, and their environmental and safety standards are equally bad. That’s why I want nothing to do with “free trade” with Mexico (or any third-world country, for that matter). Countries with similar standards and regulations to ours are a different matter and I have no problem entering trade agreements with them.

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      Gord Tulk says:

      This is the correct take. Warren makes some decent woulda shoulda coulda observations but neither Trudeau nor his advisors are up to the task.

      The media in the US see right through the paper thin gravitas of JT – I can see Bret baier shredding him now – it would be bad enough to cost the liberals the next election.

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    Peter says:

    I have little problem with most of that–I actually like much of it and thank that it could potentially play to JT’s strengths if he were properly prepared and thoroughly briefed– but what has it got to do with anger or claiming Trump is Hitler reborn (or an asshole, a somewhat problematic juxtaposition)? If he did all that, I’d say go with God, but he had better choose his issues carefully, avoid partisan attacks and duck “undiplomatic” criticism of the U.S. government on its home turf, as Lester Pearson found out. Plus his brain trust had better consider the possibility that Trump would respond by sending his best people to be interviewed by Peter Mansbridge. Sorry, Virginia, not everything he says is crazy.

    It actually strikes me as pretty good advice for the Dems too, but it seems they would prefer to jump from one overwrought outrage to another and cede serious policy debates to others.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Did they not get in the PMO that Bannon was nothing short of a rabid protectionist? Talk about an absolutely useless political strategy, cozing up to him.

    Like I said, too much mediocre to bad advice in the PMO and a PM all too willing to take it…cabinet should be communicating this message to the PM.

    We have ABSOLUTELY NO CHOICE but to hit hard and keep on hitting. It should be either NAFTA or bust — no rewarding a continually belligerent Trump with a future bilateral cave-in on our part.

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    Angel Martin says:

    Canada doesn’t have much leverage here.

    When the US was a big oil importer, Canada had real trade leverage.

    When the US was trying to keep the Western Alliance together, Canada could threaten to leave NATO.

    Canada’s biggest economic leverage would be against the tech companies, the social media companies, the online retailers, hollywood, publishers, big pharma … except those industries are Trump’s domestic political enemies, based in deep blue states.

    Electric power exports could be a big lever… except that power is also going to blue states.

    About the only leverage Canada has right now is the F35 contract. That’s not much.

    Trying to intervene in USA elections will backfire as badly as if the USA was doing it to us. (see Obama and Brexit).

    When you have a weak hand, play to minimize your losses.

    Trump is going to move manufacturing activity back to the USA. It would be in Canada’s interest if those jobs came from China, and not us.

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      Fred from BC says:

      Very well stated..covers all the relevant issues and comes to a reasonable conclusion (even if it’s not one that most people here will want to hear). Trudeau could have done much of what Warren suggested and it might indeed have helped mitigate the potential damage, but as you say above (and I have said myself more than once):

      We were NEVER going to win this. EVER. Not a chance, sorry…we just don’t have the economic clout. Nor are we going to be bailed out by other countries, who have their own issues (and interests) to worry about. The best we can hope for is to minimize the damage and try to negotiate the best possible deal we can get.

      And before the usual “concerned citizens” here jump in (you know who you are) on the attack, allow me to clarify:

      That’s not me being unpatriotic. That’s not me being negative, or defeatist. That’s not me being a partisan hack. That’s not me being a “Trump supporter” (oh GOD no).

      That’s me being a realist.

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        Angel Martin says:

        Two other thoughts.

        Trump wants a 5 year NAFTA term while Trudeau insists that there be no time limit. Since we are not going to get a very good deal here, I’m not sure why we want to keep it forever !

        It’s something Trump wants, so let’s give it to him. But get something in return. Don’t give Trump anything for free !

        The other point is that in 1971, Trudeau tried to get Nixon to exempt Canada from tariffs in exchange for matching US tariffs against every other country.

        Nixon didn’t go for it, but Trump might. It’s worth a try, in my view.

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          Fred from BC says:

          Agreed. Like The Great One said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”..:)

          When it comes to this issue, I’ve seen more possible strategies, angles and ideas offered up on this website than the rest of the media combined. One can only hope that a few politicians actually lurk here…

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    Lou says:

    Warren, thats 10 for 10 bang on. Justin only had to look at his own playbook.

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    Samuel T. says:

    The elephant question in the room is why can things be produced so much cheaper elsewhere? Walk Free Foundation estimates there are 46 million people enslaved worldwide – 18 million in India, China 3.4M, Pakistan 2.1M, Bangladesh 1.5M, Uzbekistan 1.2M. (4.3% of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania is enslaved – there is no prohibition against slavery in Islam.) In this context Beijing, Islamabad, New Dehli are as Atlanta, Savannah, Charleston before they were razed. As Democrats were for slavery then, Liberals are for slavery today and all the cheap goodies they can get their venal hands on. Every day and night these 46 million slaves pray Republicans will liberate them from bondage and these wicked and retrograde systems. The gathering storm is not about economics or money. It is about Liberty.

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    Kev says:

    In what possible way could it be said he kissed Trump’s ass?

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    Walter says:

    Did Trudeau miss an opportunity to settle the Free Trade issue, or is what’s happening now part of the plan.

    It seems pretty obvious that a reasonable person or government in Canada could have come to agreement with the US. So maybe what we are living now is part of the Canadian plan. Deliberately kill the trade deal and blame Trump. Canadian would then rally around their PM in a time of (trade) war – and he could ride that to an election victory in 2019.
    Trudeau’s team has some smart political operatives and I have no doubt that they would sell their own mothers, or destroy their own economy – if it would improve their re-election chances.

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      Angel Martin says:

      Past history suggests that’s a dangerous electoral strategy.

      Trudeau senior was not able to negotiate an exemption to the “Nixon Shock” in 1971. Canada was hit by 10 % tariffs same as every other country.

      Trudeau tried to distance himself from the USA economically and diplomatically with the “Third Option”.

      Didn’t help him in the 1972 election. Far from sweeping the country, Trudeau ended up with a minority gov’t and was a handful of seats away from total defeat.

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    Steve T says:

    Bullies tend to have two outcomes:

    1. They attempt to dominate their victim, and are only satisfied when they can say the victim was vanquished. Nothing less than complete humiliation is sufficient.

    2. Their victim ends up being more powerful than they thought, and the bully is forced to capitulate in the face of overwhelming strength.

    Sadly, nothing JT or anyone else does can qualify Canada for #2. It might feel good to posture, and the citizenry might enjoy it, but we will lose the fight. That’s why a-holes like Trump deserve the world’s utter scorn. If most of the G7 banded together against Trump, it might have an effect. But Canada alone can’t do sh*t.

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      Fred from BC says:

      ” If most of the G7 banded together against Trump, it might have an effect. But Canada alone can’t do sh*t.”

      Exactly. That’s just a Liberal/NDP fantasy, the world vs. Donald Trump. Sounds great in theory, until someone points out that nations don’t actually have friends…they have interests. No G7 nation is going to go out on a limb for Canada and put our interests ahead of their own.

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        Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Come on, Fred.

        The others (G5) will go out on a limb in support of Canada but won’t call it that. Why? Because what Trump is doing to us — he’s also doing to the EU and China. They, like us, have nothing more to lose in the way of responding to American tariffs.

        Trump will get the message when all tariff-affected countries band together and let the U.S. have it. Trump can’t and won’t get a win against all of us. A strong concerted and steady effort will more than get his attention.

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          Fred from BC says:

          No, Ronald…I don’t think so.

          Even if these countries did get together, putting aside all their differences with Canada (and they *do* have them; you don’t think the EU and China want more access to our dairy market?), Trump would simply make a deal with one of them (maybe two). Just enough to break the united front. Again: countries don’t have ‘friends’…

          Don’t forget either that the EU was formed as an attempt to counter the financial might of the US. An attempt, but not a successful one; certainly it hasn’t worked yet, and the alliance remains somewhat unstable (if not fragile). China is not much more than a paper tiger and very vulnerable economically to the right pressure. A US economic downturn (the housing crash) created a *global* recession a few years back, remember? THAT’S the kind of economic power they wield when their economy is weak, and right now it is far from weak (witness all that foreign capital now flowing to the United States, not to the EU or China).

          We’ll know soon enough, Ronald. I can’t see this being a long, drawn-out affair.

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    barn E. rubble says:

    My understanding is that JT could’ve agreed to drop all tariffs between U.S./Canada. But he didn’t.

    If we have tariffs, so can they, no? Seems simple.

    I’m guessing the Liberals next move will be to, ‘use our whiny voices,’ to try and get a better deal. He really hasn’t explained how protecting so few at the peril of so many will benefit Canada as a whole . . . oh, wait a sec. Benefiting Canada as a whole wasn’t the point of protecting so few. The point was protecting a few votes . . . let’s see if that works out for him. But either way, he really should stop whining . . . he’s embarrassing us all.

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