While the United States spent most of last week embroiled in a controversy over whether some neo-Nazis are "fine people" and whether launching an armed rebellion against the federal government to preserve slavery is worth commemorating, the Canadian political system was mobilizing around the more prosaic subject of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. The first round of talks began last week, continued through the weekend, and featured the attendance and heavy involvement of Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Freeland herself was formerly Canada's top trade official, and before that spent years as a journalist based in Washington, so she's ideally situated to both grasp the substantive issues in play, understand the relevant political dynamics in the United States, and represent the Canadian government at a high level. In other words, Canada is taking NAFTA renegotiation very seriously.
@liberal_party: A better NAFTA means creating the best possible conditions for jobs, growth, and prosperity for Canadians. More: http://lpc.ca/aot7
That the US-Canadian trade relationship would be a bigger deal for Canada than for the United States is in some ways merely to be expected. An old adage of Canadian political economy holds that "if the United States sneezes, Canada catches a cold" and while the trading relationship is important to both countries, it's clearly more important to Canada.
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In this case, however, the entire NAFTA renegotiation process is happening only because Donald Trump campaigned on doing it and insisted on formally triggering the treaty's renegotiation provision back in mid-May. But with the administration in a state of semi-permanent chaos, top officials not focused on the issue, and the White House's leading trade protectionist unceremoniously fired, Trump does not appear to be well-positioned to secure any kind of meaningful concessions from Canada.