Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Blame Canada


Reuters (via Forbes):

OTTAWA(Reuters) - Canada defended Democratic front-runner Barack Obama Monday over accusations from rival Hillary Clinton that he is secretly at ease with a hemispheric trade accord which he publicly blames for losing U.S. jobs.

Clinton's criticism, on the eve of make-or-break presidential nomination contests for her in Ohio and Texas, stemmed from a report by Canadian television station CTV that an Obama economic adviser told Canadian officials the candidate was not seriously considering disrupting the trade accord.

But the Canadian Embassy in Washington released a statement essentially backing up the Obama camp's version of the meeting between adviser Austan Goolsbee and officials at the Canadian consulate in Chicago.

"There was no intention to convey, in any way, that Senator Obama and his campaign team were taking a different position in public from views expressed in private, including about NAFTA," the embassy statement said. "We deeply regret any inference that may have been drawn to that effect."

It's a fine mess of rhetoric that gets peddled during the election years, isn't it?

Candidates having to engage in specialized pandering often run the risk that what they say to group X on the stump comes back to bite them on the ass when group Y hears about the 'sellout'...Or, happening far more frequently in the era of parsed-down committeethink, candidate A getting clubbed over the head with misstatements of what they've said by candidate B as they play a game of media leapfrog using negative perceptions of the other, so common in these times.

And so it goes here...Factually speaking, NAFTA, that much maligned instrument of so-called 'free trade' is not likely to be renegotiated unless the manufacturing sector for whom it was implemented finds an advantage in doing so, and indeed why would they when the governments that are signatories to it can just ignore its guidelines when convenient, or rather, when its guidelines are inconvenient to them. I'm looking at you there, America, land of rapaciously nativist lobbyists.

Another thing to consider, of course, is the relative economic states of being involved here...The many signs pointing to America dancing on the lip of a recession at minimum make changing elements or structure of NAFTA unlikely, as the protections and guarantees afforded the U.S.A. in the consumer relationship would vanish, and renegotiations between producer and self-impoverished client state may not be as favorable depending on many factors, not least of which is the other government's willingness to play along predicated on their own native political agenda.

Conversely, Canada, America's largest trading partner, would have no particular desire to do anything that affects its own ascendant economy, especially since elections in Canada have far more rapid and pointed consequences than below the 49th parallel, and a government that drops that ball will be a very sorry gaggle of pols indeed.

And so, with that particularly dry piece of toast on a grey Tuesday morning (at least from where I'm sitting), in the spirit of national harmony between our great nations, I leave you with a song in my heart: