Cyprus Votes Against EU Trade Deal with Canada

Nicos Anastasiades Mette Frederiksen
President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus speaks with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark in Brussels, February 20, 2020 (European Council)

First tiny Wallonia threatened to derail the EU’s free-trade agreement with Canada. Now Cyprus, with a population of 1.2 million, is putting at risk a treaty that covers nearly 500 million consumers and 28 percent of the world’s economy.

Cypriot lawmakers voted 37 to eighteen against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which eliminates nearly all tariffs between Canada and the EU and includes mutual recognition of professional qualifications and product standards.

It’s one of those product standards the Cypriots are unhappy about. They argue CETA should close the Canadian market to foreign ripoffs of their national cheese, halloumi. Read more “Cyprus Votes Against EU Trade Deal with Canada”

Italy Joins Trump in Resisting Canadian Trade

Italy has learned from Donald Trump that Canada is now the enemy of the West.

In an interview with the newspaper La Stampa, the country’s new agriculture minister, Gian Marco Centinaio of the far-right League, said he would ask parliament not to ratify the trade agreement the EU negotiated with Canada in 2016.

Without ratification by all 28 member states, the treaty cannot go into effect for the entire European Union. Read more “Italy Joins Trump in Resisting Canadian Trade”

Trump to G6: Drop Dead

Donald Trump Angela Merkel
American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

This weekend’s G7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada could hardly have gone worse.

Even a boilerplate communiqué, which reiterated the rich nations’ commitment to free and fair trade, was undermined at the last minute, when American president Donald Trump repudiated the text. Read more “Trump to G6: Drop Dead”

Ontario State Poll Resembles America’s 2016 Election

Toronto Canada
Skyline of Toronto, Canada (Unsplash/Juan Rojas)

Every election now gets compared to America’s 2016 presidential contest, but the analogy fits really well in today’s election in Ontario, Canada’s largest province.

Patrick Brown, who was supposed to be the center-right Conservative candidate, dropped out less than three months before the election under allegations of sexual misconduct involving a minor. This triggered a contest for the Progressive Conservative leadership featuring:

  • Doug Ford, a right-wing populist and the brother of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who passed away in 2016;
  • Christine Elliott, a center-right candidate, formerly married to a finance minister; and
  • Carolyn Mulroney, another center-right candidate and the daughter of a former prime minister.

Ford narrowly beat Elliott, despite losing the popular vote. He went on to face the incumbent state premier, Kathleen Wynne, of the ruling Liberal Party, and Andrea Horwath of the progressive New Democratic Party.

Wynne was so unpopular that, with only a week to go before the election, she conceded. Polls now show a tight race between Ford and Horwath. Read more “Ontario State Poll Resembles America’s 2016 Election”

Allies Hope for the Best from Trump, Must Plan for the Worst

Donald Trump Jens Stoltenberg
Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Donald Trump of the United States listen to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO making a speech in Brussels, May 25 (NATO)

American allies are coping with Donald Trump’s disruptive presidency in similar ways, a collection of essays in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine reveals:

  • All feel they need to step up and defend the liberal world order as Trump is determined to put “America first”.
  • They worry that a new era of American isolationism could make the world poorer and less safe.
  • Leaders are doing their best to rein in Trump’s worst impulses and most of their voters understand the need for pragmatism, although they have little faith in this president. Read more “Allies Hope for the Best from Trump, Must Plan for the Worst”

Immigration Lessons from Canada

Joseph Heath, a professor at the University of Toronto, sees five reasons why Canada has been more successful at integrating migrants than Europe and the United States:

  1. Very little illegal immigration. This helps explain the difference in attitudes with the United States but not with Western Europe, where illegal immigration is also low.
  2. A political system that encourages moderation. I think this has more to do with political culture than the system. Heath argues that first-past-the-post makes it difficult for nativists to prevail. Parties need to appeal to the center. But it doesn’t stop nativists from influencing the mainstream right, as they did in the United Kingdom. To stem defections to UKIP that could split the right-wing vote and allow Labour to sneak into first place, the Conservatives felt they had to become more insular. And clearly in a two-party system, like America’s, nativists can come out on top.
  3. Immigrants are part of larger nation-building project. Immigrants ended up strengthening Canadians’ sense of nationhood because, unlike the First Nations, Westerners and Quebecers, they embraced national symbols. Persuasive, but it’s hard to see how other countries could mimic this.
  4. Protection of majority culture clear from the start. This is rooted in Canada’s unique history but could be a lesson to others. Heath argues that the need to appease Quebecers led to equal cultural and language protections for the English and French, as a result of which the majority felt unthreatened by newcomers.
  5. Bringing people in from all over. I think this is the key. There is no “majority minority” in Canada. Heath reports that, in a typical year, no group makes up more than 15 percent of the total number of immigrants. Hence no parallel societies could emerge in Canada, like the predominantly Muslim banlieues of Paris, immigrant-heavy neighborhoods in Amsterdam and Latino districts in major cities across the United States. Their existence hinders assimilation and makes visible the threat immigrants pose to the dominant culture. Read more “Immigration Lessons from Canada”

Can Canada Resist Trump’s Offensive on NAFTA?

NAFTA stands for the North American Free Trade Act, but President Donald Trump does not.

After campaigning on a promise to repeal the act, then adapting his position to that of merely supporting the act’s renegotiation, Trump recently announced that he would no longer tolerate the status quo arrangement for American imports of dairy and forestry products originating from Canada.

Proposing, on April 24, to add a 24-percent tariff on American imports of Canadian softwood lumber, Trump kept up the pressure on Canada the following day, tweeting, “Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult. We will not stand for this. Watch!”

Watch! indeed: the value of the loonie fell sharply the week of the tweet, as investors worried how Canada will fare when it comes to the broader renegotiation of NAFTA Trump continues to promise.

Trump’s targeting of Canada in this way is not likely to have been random. Nor was it entirely economic in its intention. Rather, Trump brought up the issue in order to prove his anti-NAFTA bona fides to his political base, however, in a way that manages to avoid the hairier subjects associated with NAFTA’s other signatory, Mexico, such as those of immigration, racism and The Wall.

Trump has admittedly been careful to direct attention to goods of lesser importance, like dairy products and softwood lumber, rather than to Canada’s key exports of oil (from Alberta) and auto parts (from Ontario).

Still, he has been far tougher on Canada — at least in his rhetoric — than has any other recent president. To use a Trumpian phrase: Canada has now been put on notice. Read more “Can Canada Resist Trump’s Offensive on NAFTA?”

Why Ontario Plays Such a Central Role in Canadian Politics

Toronto Canada
Skyline of Toronto, Canada (Unsplash/Maarten van den Heuvel)

Canada is often considered to be a haven from geopolitics, a nation relatively free from economic want or political cant. But if by geopolitics we refer simply to the influence of geography upon politics, Canada may in fact be a prime place to study it, if only because the country posseses so much of the former when in comparison to the latter.

The basic fact of Canadian geopolitics is this: more Canadians live in the city of Toronto than live in the 2,500-kilometer expanse of land separating Toronto from Alberta.

(Or, to put it in the most Canadian possible of ways, there are a heckuva lot more people who would like to see Auston Matthews take the Calder than Patrick Laine.)

Canada is in this way divided in two: between Alberta and British Columbia on the one hand, in which around 25 percent of Canadians live and 30 percent of Canada’s GDP is generated, and Ontario and Quebec on the other, which account for roughly 60 percent of Canada’s population and GDP.

These two halves are, in turn, each divided in two. Alberta is separated from British Columbia by the Rockies; Ontario from Quebec by the Anglo-French divide. (The debate is still open as to which of these two barriers is the more venerable.)

However, while the British Columbia-Alberta split is pretty well balanced — Alberta’s GDP is a bit larger than British Columbia’s, but British Columbia’s population is a bit larger than Alberta’s — the Ontario-Quebec divide is tilted strongly in support of Ontario. By itself, Ontario accounts for an estimated 38.6 percent of Canada’s population and 38.4 percent of Canada’s GDP. Read more “Why Ontario Plays Such a Central Role in Canadian Politics”

What Did Walloons Get from Resisting Canada Trade Pact?

The Socialist-led regional government of Belgium’s French-speaking south, which had stalled ratification of a European trade pact with Canada, agreed to support the treaty after all on Thursday.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union will itself not change.

But the Belgians do ask for a four-page addition to the 1,600-page treaty, which must be endorsed by all four of Belgium’s regional parliaments as well as the 27 other EU member states before the full accord can come into force. Read more “What Did Walloons Get from Resisting Canada Trade Pact?”