On 31 March 2005 Ottawa joined the European Union. That is, the Liberal government teamed with the EU and other countries over trade with the Americans. Effective 1 May, Canada will be collecting on “millions of dollars worth of sanctions on U.S. imports in retaliation for a lingering trade irritant” [“Canada Fires Trade War Salvo…,” AP, 31 March 2005. Story posted at http://www.canada.com/national/story.html?id=d376e991-6a24-41d2-bdc1-06d0a09595c8]. Impacted goods will include live swine and oysters from the U.S., and the windfall to Canadians could be in the range of $14-15 million per year. All this is in response to the Byrd Amendment, an Act the World Trade Organization calls “illegal” and which “allows American companies to keep the proceeds that Washington collects in anti-dumping disputes -- something Canada and other countries complain unfairly enriches their U.S. rival firms” [“Canada Fires Trade War Salvo…,” AP, 31 March 2005. Story posted at http://www.canada.com/national/story.html?id=d376e991-6a24-41d2-bdc1-06d0a09595c8].
But is Washington taking notice? Will this really broadside the US economy?
Only about a week ago, on 23 March 2005, things seemed very much different. PM Paul Martin, along with US President George Bush and Mexico’s President Vicente Fox met in Waco, Texas. More than anything, these three amigos seemed to favour cooperation, deciding to agree to go ahead with Fortress North America, concluding that wide-ranging accords on security and prosperity were in everybody’s interest. Gone, at least for the reporters, was even the hint that tensions existed between Martin and Bush over the former’s refusal to sign on to missile defense. Closer ties, said Martin, would translate into greater independence for Canada. There would be no intention to cede national sovereignty. “If you're competitive, if your standard of living is rising, then in fact what you're doing is strengthening your sovereignty,” he noted [cited in http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1111583825468_66/]. Fox added his support, stressing North America faces “new threats that carry a risk for our societies, but we also want to work toward the good performance of our economies…We want to make North America the most competitive region in the world, and we can do it with actions in the fields of energy, education, technology, security and through protecting our natural resources” [cited in http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1111583825468_66/].
Some may argue that for Bush the meeting was little more than a distraction, and that the sanctions to go into effect on 1 May will go little, if at all, noticed. Washington may have in mind Fortress Americas, stretching as far as the southern-most tip of Chile. If Bush believes he can ignore Canada, he may yet be in for a surprise. Minister of Foreign Affairs Pierre Pettigrew, also in Texas, found himself carded by security. Evidently the secret service didn’t recognize him, or just couldn’t believe his claim about being a foreign minister. If this doesn’t prompt him to do something that grabs attention at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we may have to settle for Pettigrew getting a new passport.
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