Trumps new trade deal with Canada and Mexico is just what we need

The prospects for Congress ratifying a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada improved last month when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, «we’re moving ahead» and expressed hope for «a continuing path to yes.»

No trade agreement is ever perfect. But the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the trade deal that could replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is an improvement over NAFTA in several respects, especially when it comes to workers’ rights and the environment.

Drafted in the early 1990s, NAFTA helped grow the US economy — as well as that of Canada and Mexico — and strengthened regional integration to an unprecedented level.…  Seguir leyendo »

Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

It all started so promisingly. It’s hard to forget the bright, warm day in early November 2015, when Justin Trudeau, in a perfectly fitted suit and with perfectly tousled hair, strolled with his new cabinet members to the steps of Rideau Hall, opened to the public to witness the swearing-in ceremony of Canada’s new Liberal Party prime minister. Onlookers took in the equal number of male and female ministers, the first gender-balanced federal cabinet in Canadian history. “Because it’s 2015,” Trudeau explained, a line soon celebrated in the columns of newspapers across the world.

His cabinet of outdoor enthusiasts promised to “give to our children and grandchildren a country even more beautiful, sustainable, and prosperous than the one we have now.” His speeches were peppered with empathetic nods to the struggles of Canadians with inequality, precariousness, and poverty.…  Seguir leyendo »

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his bid for re-election on Wednesday. He is globally prominent, but his popularity has ebbed in Canada.CreditCreditDave Chan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Just as American presidents tend to get re-elected, Canadian prime ministers almost never get turned out by voters after their first terms. The last time it happened to a leader with a majority government behind him was during the Great Depression.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who officially announced his campaign for re-election on Wednesday, is well aware of a time when it almost happened. His father, Pierre Trudeau, went to bed on election night in 1972 fearing he’d lost. Trudeau père had swept to power four years earlier on a wave of Kennedyesque popularity — “like a stone through a stained-glass window,” in the words of one writer.…  Seguir leyendo »

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found that an ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples constitutes a root cause of the violence that is currently being perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls. Genocide is a centerpiece of the National Inquiry’s report, which argues that colonial violence is ongoing, not just a legacy of the past. Its 231 Calls for Justice reflect the legal obligation to stop genocide through a range of policy and process changes.

Numbers are difficult to ascertain, as they keep growing, but nearly two decades of studies and reports in Canada have uncovered more than 1,200 names of Indigenous women who are known to have been killed or who have simply disappeared.…  Seguir leyendo »

Après avoir fait campagne sur le thème d’une «Europe qui protège» et qui lutte contre le changement climatique, le gouvernement français s’apprêterait en urgence à ratifier le Ceta – le Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement –, un accord commercial dit de «nouvelle génération» entre l’Union européenne et le Canada, espérant que la torpeur de l’été ait raison de la mobilisation citoyenne.

Or, l’incompatibilité du Ceta avec les engagements de l’accord de Paris sur le climat a été démontrée par la Commission d’experts mandatés par le gouvernement français. Leur rapport annonçait la hausse des émissions de gaz à effet de serre en raison notamment de la multiplication des flux internationaux, de la promotion d’un modèle agricole moins-disant sur le plan environnemental et de l’augmentation des investissements dans des industries polluantes telles que le pétrole issu des sables bitumineux.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hyperbole is the currency of the desperate — and the lead-up to the Canadian government’s decision on the Trans Mountain expansion project has been witness to a brisk trade among those who suggest that approving the pipeline’s twinning is essential to the economy and national unity.

The project’s supporters have suggested that it is non-negotiable. Opponents counter that the whatever the promised return, the price is too high — for the climate, the western coastline and for Canada’s indigenous peoples. David Anderson, a former Liberal cabinet minister who was the country’s longest-serving minister of the environment, went as far as to say there’s no business case for the expansion.…  Seguir leyendo »

Canada’s long-awaited report on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) was released last week. Its central finding, that Canada is engaged in a “deliberate race, identity and gender-based genocide,” has received cool reception from press and politician alike.

Reporters were initially quick to credulously repeat the study’s accusation, but more skeptical coverage now dominates, and editorial pages are filled with dissent. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau initially sought to avoid stating whether he believed the genocide charge was true, only to finally concede, with lawyerly carefulness, that “we accept their findings, including that what happened amounts to genocide” — though the report was speaking in the present tense.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman holds an eagle feather during the closing ceremony of the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Gatineau, Quebec, on June 3. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

When I was in university in 2006, I would go for lunch with a friend named Casey after class. We would sit and discuss politics, books, lectures and so on. I should mention that Casey was a white woman raised in Toronto with very little experience with indigenous peoples, whereas I was (am) an indigenous woman who has lived on both sides of the border arbitrarily separating my peoples’ territory between the United States and Canada.

Casey had no idea about residential schools, the state- and church-run institutions where Canada forcefully held thousands of indigenous children, away from their families, and subjected them to all manner of abuse and neglect in the name of an “education” meant to “kill the Indian” to “save the man.” I don’t blame her; I didn’t know either, despite my grandmother’s siblings being forced to attend the Mohawk Institute, the residential school closest to Six Nations, a handful of decades before.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week, family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people, survivors of violence, community activists and Indigenous leaders gathered in Ottawa for the release of “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.” They were there to acknowledge the inquiry’s work in a collective ceremony to honor the lives of those who have experienced violence. It was an demonstration of the love that exists within Indigenous communities for Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people — and a recognition of the overwhelming levels of violence they have had to endure for generations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las elecciones federales en Canadá serán en octubre, así que el primer ministro Justin Trudeau tiene menos de cinco meses para revertir las tendencias: su reelección está en peligro. El motivo no tiene que ver con el entusiasmo que generan sus rivales o con la economía (los expertos señalan que va por buen camino). En realidad, es consecuencia de una suma de escándalos, resultados discretos y problemas de comunicación de su gobierno.

Un descalabro de Trudeau en las urnas a manos de los conservadores cortaría un proyecto que, pese a sus errores, ha mostrado compromiso con las minorías y ha buscado apuntalar distintos mecanismos de protección social.…  Seguir leyendo »

Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Montreal during a march against climate change on March 15. Credit Martin Ouellet-Diotte/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Last month, to protest the start of the Canadian government putting a price on carbon emissions, right-leaning politicians across the country posted photographs of themselves on Twitter resolutely filling up their S.U.V.s, minivans and pickup trucks with gasoline.

The next day, federal scientists announced that climate change is warming Canada twice as fast as the rest of the world. The findings in their terrifying report on April 1 help to explain the ocean acidification that’s threatening killer whales, why pine beetles are chewing a path of destruction through North America’s boreal forest, the disappearance of sea ice that has supported Inuit communities for millenniums and the exposure of millions of Canadians every day to ticks carrying Lyme disease.…  Seguir leyendo »

Students holding Chinese national flags watch the live broadcast of the 40th anniversary celebration of China's reform and opening-up at Huaibei Normal University on 18 December. Photo: Getty Images.

Since Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest last month, relations between China and Canada have been strained by what many have interpreted as Beijing’s retaliatory detentions of two Canadians – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – on national security charges. The actions have already sparked a global debate over the so-called ‘hostage diplomacy’ between the two countries.

But the present breakdown in ties between Beijing and Ottawa is neither morality play nor conspiracy. Instead, it is a function of the Chinese government’s need to answer to its furious domestic audience, with Canada caught in the unfortunate timing of the US–China trade war.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Canadian embassy in Beijing on 14 January. Photo: Getty Images.

China’s apparent use of Canadian detainees as diplomatic bargaining chips is not just a problem for Canada. It is a challenge to all countries that seek to uphold the rule of law in their domestic and international affairs.

The dispute began in December when Canadian police arrested Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on an extradition request from the United States. Meng is accused of fraud for allegedly conspiring to mislead several banks between 2009 and 2014. US authorities claim that she deliberately misrepresented the relationship between Huawei and Skycom Tech, a Hong Kong-based company that did business in Iran in violation of US sanctions.…  Seguir leyendo »

The death sentence imposed on Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg by the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in north-eastern China is an immense blow for the convicted drug smuggler and his family. China argues it is a simple matter of sentencing a felon according to the Chinese code.

But for the rest of the world, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the decision is far more sinister. Following the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver in late 2018, Chinese state media warned Canada that Beijing may «take revenge» if she is extradited to the US.

Schellenberg’s death sentence, along with the detainment of two Canadians on suspicion of «activities that endangered China’s national security,» appears to confirm this theory.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Toronto skyline is silhouetted in 2015. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

According to Canada’s most recent census, only 17.9 percent of Canadians claim to speak both French and English, which means 82.1 percent of Canadians are ineligible to occupy the multitude of government positions reserved by law or custom for those fluent in Canada’s “two official languages.” This includes not only flashy jobs such as prime minister or Supreme Court justice, but 43 percent of all positions in the Canadian federal bureaucracy, according to a 2017 report by the Clerk of the Privy Council.

Ottawa is aware that this imbalance is not warmly received by all. As the Clerk’s report delicately noted, “for some public servants, mostly employees who did not learn French prior to entering the labor market, they expressed concern that this makes it difficult to acquire the language skills needed to advance in their careers, and could limit access to bilingual positions to individuals who entered the Public Service bilingual.”

“Employees who did not learn French prior to entering the labor market” euphemistically alludes to the fact that bilingualism requirements do not discriminate equally but are heavily biased to the benefit of native French speakers in Quebec.…  Seguir leyendo »

Canada’s Grand Cannabis Experiment

When Canada fully legalized recreational cannabis on Oct. 17, the internet giddily reimagined the CN Tower in Toronto peeking out from a thick haze and swapped the flag’s red maple leaf for its jagged-edged green cousin. Outsiders might titter about an entire populace turning into potheads, but legalization means some of the country’s brightest can now turn their minds to pot.

As the first G-7 nation to slacken cannabis laws, Canada has bolted to the front lines of the plant’s methodical scrutiny and investigation. No longer at risk of censure or lacking access to specimens, researchers can transcend the narrow parameters of scientific study once considered acceptable, namely, clinical research, to explore social, biological, genetic and agricultural questions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Canada’s politicians seem determined to give their country more democracy — whether the people want it or not.

Getting rid of so-called first-past-the-post-style (FPTP) elections, in which parliamentarians are elected based on whoever gets the most votes, even if that’s not an absolute majority, has been one of the great failed crusades of modern Canadian politics. Since 2005, there have been at least four province-level referendums on adopting a European-style “proportional representation” electoral system, as well as numerous recommendations from advisory councils and a definitive campaign promise from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Yet despite it all, no change has occurred — the referendums were voted down, the committees ignored, Trudeau’s promise brazenly broken.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mi año como embajadora de Trump en México

El presidente estadounidense, Donald Trump, declaró triunfante que su remplazo del Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte es una mejora importante respecto al original. Tengo mis dudas, al igual que muchos expertos, incluidos algunos republicanos. Sin embargo, hasta los escépticos se sienten aliviados de que siga intacta la esencia del pacto, de veinticinco años de antigüedad.

Detrás de la campaña de Trump para desmantelar el TLCAN no solo está su obsesión con un solo tratado comercial; también deja entrever un estilo caótico de toma de decisiones que ha socavado la diplomacia estadounidense y los intereses de ese país en todo el mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Back in July, it would have been impossible to predict that the talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would end as they did, first with a deal with Mexico on Aug. 27 and then with Canada on Sept. 30. Practically up until those dates, the United States had made outlandish demands, and while we will probably never know what motivated it to move away from its most recalcitrant positions, the important fact is that it did. Mexico and Canada did not cave to the U.S. government’s pretensions and preserved most of the important features of the old deal while the United States backed down.…  Seguir leyendo »

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.CreditYves Herman/Rueters

Last week, the Saudi government expelled the Canadian ambassador from Riyadh, and canceled flights, educational exchanges, and trade and investment activities between the two countries.

This crisis was precipitated by a tweet — published both in English and, crucially, in Arabic — on Aug. 3 from the Canadian foreign ministry saying it was “gravely concerned” about the arrest of women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia and urging the Saudi government to “immediately release them.”

To many observers, especially in the West, this incident is proof that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is not the reformer he claims to be, but rather an impulsive authoritarian.…  Seguir leyendo »