Sunday, March 04, 2018

Trudeau’s Government is screwing up the Trump Steel Tariff issue

And why is this happening? 

Because the Canadian government has not done its homework. 

It has been obvious for more than 18 months that a Trump presidency would pose special problems for the small Canadian economy, but you would never have guessed this from the activities and statements of the Trudeau government.

Trump won because he had views on the direction of the USA that millions of Americans agreed with, and voted for. 

A major view that Trump and his supporters hold is that the American worker has been sold out by the political and economic elites over a period of several decades, and one means this was done was through the free trade agreements, and globalization efforts.

Trump’s policy of reversing the deindustrialization of the US is going to be implemented by his tariff policies, amongst others.

This has been obvious from early on.

Now Trump has announced tariffs on steel and aluminium, aimed at increasing the production of those products in the USA, and using the massive excess capacity in steel and aluminium plants in the USA to produce more.

The Canadian government has failed to seriously analyze the Trump policies, as announced time and again during his campaign, and in the year he has been in office.

And this shows in their response to the tariffs, which might include Canadian exports to the USA (we are a major exporter of steel to the USA).

If our government had done its work properly, it would have analyzed the needs that Trump’s policies were trying to meet, and tried to revise Canadian policies to achieve a win-win solution that meets those needs and our needs.

For example: trying to change the Trump policy of America First and American production increases in its homeland, is a good attempt, but unlikely to change Trump or his millions of supporters.

But trying to meet his concerns that a powerful American needs a thriving steel industry, is a different approach. 

Trump’s spokespersons have clearly spelled out their concerns over the past year, and a major one is the security issue.

Just what has Canada offered the USA to resolve its concern about America being able to produce enough steel to meet its defence needs should the USA find itself in a protracted war?

So far I have heard no intelligent Canadian response to this.

Time to do some hard work in Ottawa. 

Start with a detailed, in-depth analysis of the expressed concerns of the Trump administration over the past year or so, and  then seek solutions that meet those needs, as well as our needs to export steel and aluminium.

Trudeau’s government might be surprised by how many win-win solutions they can come up with if they brainstorm the issues (not the perceptions, or the kneejerk free-trade-driven ideological reactions we have seen to date).

Canada needs a government that does the heavy lifting required to protect and expand our economic growth.

So start with this tariff problem, and solve it in a more meaningful way than the government has announced so far.

And then move on to breaking down trade barriers within Canada.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Pope: The one man who can save Spain.

Spain’s problem can be solved by one man: the Pope.

How? Simple. The Pope invites (commands?) the two leaders of Spain and Catalonia to meet with him and his advisors, in the Vatican.

As part of the public invitation, the Pope sets out a few topics that he will raise at the meeting, and the terms that will govern the meeting(s).

Without prejudice talks:

First, the discussions will be without prejudice. What that means is that nothing said by any party at the meetings will be politically, morally or legally binding on any of the persons there. It's as if the meetings never happened.

Select a Mediator:

Second, the Pope will be asking the two leaders to agree on a method to select a mediator acceptable to both of them, who will help guide the discussions at the meetings. This will not be an arbitrator, just a mediator - one who helps people talk to each other. The mediator will not have any authority apart from helping them.


Third, the purpose of the meeting(s) will be to explore differences in interests (not just stated positions - ala the interest based negotiations set out so brilliantly in the Harvard Business School publication Getting to Yes). The aim is a possible resolution of differences between Spain's government and the Catalonian government.


Fourth, all meetings will be in camera unless all three parties agree otherwise for specific meetings.

The People must decide:

Fifth, if such a resolution is reached (which is highly likely if done this way), then any agreement will be put to the citizens of Spain for approval, and will require a majority vote (50% plus 1 vote) in favour in a referendum, to pass.

There must be such a majority of Yes votes by all those citizens who cast votes, PLUS there must be a majority of Yes votes by citizens residing in Catalonia, for the agreement to become legally, politically and morally binding. There will be no minimum number of votes needed for either referendum.

Solution is nigh:

If the Pope takes up this suggestion today, then a method to resolve this crisis will be set in motion this weekend.

The proud citizens of Spain deserve a means to resolve their differences, and the Pope is the only person of standing who can help achieve this.

The ball is in the Vatican's court.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Good news coming on electoral reform says Andrew Coyne

In a thoughtful article Coyne ranges over the positive news springing up at levels below the federal level, regarding changes to our undemocratic first past the post electoral system (the one that PM Trudeau favours, given his decision to walk away from his campaign promise to end it).

Ontario is showing political and democratic leadership, starting with optional changes for municipal elections:

Ontario has passed legislation allowing the province’s municipalities, if they choose, to use ranked ballots for their elections: earlier this year, London became the first to take them up on it, while Kingston will hold a referendum on the idea in 2018. This isn’t proportional representation: it’s still one member per district, winner-take-all, rather than the sharing of representation among several members on which PR is based. But it’s something other than the status quo.

And in BC, with the conservative, money-grubbing Liberal Party thrown out of power and fresh faces in the Legislature, a referendum with a better than even chance of passing will be held next year:

With the coming to power of the NDP, however, the issue is back on the table: both the NDP and the Green Party, on whose support it depends, had made proportional representation part of their election platforms. Refreshingly, the government may even keep its promise — I take nothing for granted — with a referendum now scheduled for November of next year. 

Unlike the two previous referendums, a majority of 50 per cent plus one will be sufficient. 

Another key difference: this time the government will be campaigning in favour of reform.

That still leaves much to be decided: how many questions to ask and what kind; what sort of reform proposals to put on the ballot, and how many; and so forth.

Let’s hope three things take place within months:

First, that the Ontario model of letting local governments choose more democratic systems of election town and city members, spreads to other provinces, including BC.

Second, that the Ontario government either hold a referendum similar to the one planned for BC, or  change its own laws so that elections to the provincial legislature become more democratic.

Third, that Canadians take advantage of the opportunities becoming available by forming groups to vote for candidates for city and provincial governments who will adopt the new democratic methods of electing representatives.

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