Justin Trudeau Gives President Obama A Surprising Solution To The 2016 Election
Europe is in the throws of Britain's Brexit decision, but on the near side of the Atlantic, the three countries in NAFTA are still really good friends. For now that is. That may not be the case come November. There's some winds a blowing in the United States that could alter the North American free trade project. Yep, that'd be the Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump. His anti-trade agenda would build a wall with Mexico and blame Canada for who knows what. But it's not time to worry just yet, since Canada has a solution: "Four more years."
That's what parliamentarians chanted in Ottawa Wednesday after Obama finished his speech to the Canadian Parliament. He was in Canada's capital for the North America Leaders' Summit (otherwise known as the "Three Amigos" summit) with the goal of growing ties with our southern and northern neighbors. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was there, too. The solution is unconstitutional of course, but it certainly would solve the uncertainty the country — and trade bloc — faces in November. Clinton is leading in recent polls, but even a chance of Trump winning is unsettling; he has said he would get the U.S. out of NAFTA if he wins.
Much of the talk at the summit was in fact focused on such a worse-case scenario. Trudeau tried to hammer home that not even Trump could ruin the cooperation and good will that has been built between Mexico, Canada, and the United States since NAFTA came into effect in 1994, all without personally attacking Trump:
One of the things that's easy to forget in the inflated rhetoric of an election campaign is that the relationship between our three countries is a lot deeper than the individual leaders. Our strategy is to highlight how much trade and positive agreements among our nations are good — not only for the economy of the world, and the economy of our countries, but it's also good for our citizens.
Obama said later that he understood the reluctance to comment on American politics, noting that he often has an opinion in foreign races but doesn't want to burn bridges in case a less-than-desired candidate goes on to win.
Peña Nieto on the other hand was pretty blunt. To be fair, how could he not be? Trump has painted Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. He urged Americans not to "choose the road toward isolationism and destruction":
In the past, some leaders addressed their society in those terms. Hitler and Mussolini did that and the outcome is clear: It resulted in devastation, and it turned out to be a tragedy for mankind.
So since U.S. voters cannot take the Canadian Parliament's advice, the next best thing will have to be to vote for the level-headed candidate. Clinton has been all over the place on free trade, but her current position is still better than Trump's. Free trade should be fairer but is a great engine of global economic growth. "The goal is greater prosperity and security for American families, not trade for trade's sake," a statement from her campaign on another free trade agreement, the TPP, read.
NAFTA has been contentious since it was first introduced, and plenty of critics have pointed to its adverse affect on U.S. wages and Mexico's rural economies. But it has also led to billions of dollars in trade and millions of new jobs. Scrapping the agreement could lead to economic uncertainty similar to what the U.K. has seen following the Brexit vote. And that's the last thing American workers need. Four more years of Obama may not be on the table, but four years of Trump definitely shouldn't be either.