The original story from the Toronto Star was breathlessly reported on Friday by the mainstream media as if they had yet another smoking gun on Trump. Trump made some comments about Canada’s negotiators being out of their league, describing them as if the American team has them over a barrel.
This obviously did not go over well in the mainstream press, nor in Canada where they are already attempting a widespread boycott of American goods over the Trump administration’s America First trade policies.
First, let us review the original story:
Trump’s comments were viewed by Canadian negotiators as evidence for their suspicions that the U.S. was not making a legitimate effort to compromise. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s officials confronted the president’s officials with the leaked quotes at a high-level meeting on Friday morning.
Trump’s words caused a U.S. media firestorm. By the end of the day, Trump had confirmed the accuracy of the Star’s report, said he was fine with the leak because now Canada knows his true feelings and also complained at length that the leak was a breach of his trust.
Canada and the U.S. were not able to reach a deal by Trump’s informal deadline of Friday. The talks were scheduled to resume on Wednesday.
Trump made his controversial statements in an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg News on Thursday. He said, “off the record,” that he is not making any compromises at all with Canada — and that he could not say this publicly because “it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal.”
“Here’s the problem. If I say no — the answer’s no. If I say no, then you’re going to put that and it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal … I can’t kill these people,” Trump said of the Canadian government.
In another remark he did not want published, Trump said that any deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms.” He suggested he was scaring the Canadians into submission by repeatedly threatening to impose tariffs on imports of Canadian-made cars.
“Off the record, Canada’s working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,” Trump said. The Impala is produced at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ont.
Trump knew this was going to be leaked to the wider press and counted on Bloomberg to do exactly what he wanted. Now that Mexico has done a separate deal with the United States, Trump has a huge amount of leverage against the Canadians. But unlike Mexico, Canada is run by social justice warriors who get their news exclusively from outlets like CNN. They believe that the United States is a tinder box of unrest and is about to impeach and run President Trump out of office any day now.
Why did Trump do this? Likely three reasons, one to get the fawning McCain coverage off the air.
Two, retaliate against the Canadians who were not going to deal with the United States’ Nazi in Chief.
Three, because he can twist their arms to get an even better deal later after the Canadians realize that Trump really does have them over the barrel. They will then do a “mend the relationship” face saving maneuver with token concessions delivered to them from the United States and they completely surrender otherwise.
Trump asked Bloomberg to keep this “off the record,” ensuring that this would definitely be leaked out by them.
Bloomberg agreed to Trump’s request to keep the comments off the record. But the Star, which obtained the quotes from a source, is not bound by any promises Bloomberg made to the president, and it published the quotes after they became part of the critical negotiations.
Source = Bloomberg.
In a speech in Charlotte later, Trump said: “These are very dishonourable people. But I said, in the end it’s OK, because at least Canada knows how I feel. So it’s fine. It’s fine. It’s true.”
Trudeau, who was in Oshawa as the drama unfolded, said, “We will only sign a deal if it is a good deal for Canada.” Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland maintained their practice of refusing to respond directly to Trump’s regular incendiary statements.
“Over the past year and a half, there’s a lot of things that have been said from time to time,” Trudeau said. “I think people have noticed that our government’s approach is always to stay constructive, positive, to engage on the substance of issues, and to demonstrate that we understand that the path forward is one of making sure that there’s a win-win-win on all sides.”
Now Trump is turning the screws, saying Saturday that he will completely end NAFTA and continue on with Mexico and the renegotiated NAFTA agreement that he struck with them.
“There is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal. If we don’t make a fair deal for the U.S. after decades of abuse, Canada will be out. Congress should not interfere w/ these negotiations or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off…” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“We make new deal or go back to pre-NAFTA!” Trump wrote as part of a subsequent Twitter post.
So we are watching Trump doing a public relations ju-jitsu against an inadequate and wholly unprepared Canadian leadership team. By the time they have renegotiated their side of NAFTA, they won’t know what hit them.