Friday, January 16, 2009

Michael Ignatieff On Renegotiating NAFTA

On Jan. 14 at a Young Liberals event in Vancouver, Michael Ignatieff spoke to well over a hundred young Canadians who want to make a difference. Here are Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4. Part 5 consists of Michael Ignatieff answering a question concerning the possibility of Barack Obama wanting to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Throughout this response, as was in his response on Arctic sovereignty, Michael Ignatieff demonstrates a position which relies heavily on Canada taking a stronger stance in relation to the United States. He emphasizes the importance of energy as a means to counter any perceivable aggression from our southern neighbour. And though one could question the legitimacy of that claim, it introduces the idea that if Michael believes energy is such a strong card, then perhaps renegotiating NAFTA would not be such a bad thing. I should note that further on in his response he does attempt to address that point.

A portion of Michael Ignatieff's answer:

"We can talk about NAFTA, but if we're going to talk about NAFTA they're going to get a nasty surprise"


"My sense is if we are asked to renegotiate NAFTA by Mr. Obama then we go to the table with enormously strong cards to play which relate to the dependency of the United States on Canadian energy sources. This changes everything.

"Were I to be the Prime Minister I have cards to play, that we did not have to play 25 years ago. That's fact number one.

"Canadians, we don't like to play the power card but its very important with the United States, even with a Democratic administration, to be as tough as hell. This is about the defense of our sovereignty and independence, and we must do so, and Liberals must be proud defenders of our national sovereignty and Independence, even with an administration that I admire and basically preyed for for the last three years.

"But what I'm saying is, we don't get spun by Barack Obama. We go in to negotiate with him as you would with anyone else."


WesternGrit said...

Good post. I would say that we are in a position of strength on NAFTA, and any renegotiation. The Americans have never been more dependent on foreign resources - in particular, Canadian crude oil. They are trying all they can to stave off that dependence, but c'mon, who are they trying to kid? They need oil like Detroit loves it's heavy metal (Detroit metal - and I don't mean KISS).

We have some riches that we need to require full payment for. I think, like the ex-girlfriend or old buddy that's always there, the US tends to keep coming back to us for favors - because we're just so darned nice... I think we need to bring a more mutual respect to that relationship. They seem to think that we are their friends so we'll never say "no". Well... best friends - the best of friends - are those who CAN and WILL say "no" when it is in both party's best interest.

I think we live in this perpetual fear that we need them if the NAFTA is to work, and that they will tariff us like crazy if we waffle on it. The key is that THEY depend on US for the raw materials that drive their factories and plants. Without our resources, they would be shut down.

Sometimes the sabre-rattling is helpful. Certainly puts pressure on the PM to get a back bone with US-Can relationships...

The Mound of Sound said...

Classic Ignatieff. Proclaim how we're going to back Alberta and the Tar Sands all the way and then get all puffed up and claim we'll use the oil from Alberta's Tar Sands to beat the US like a red headed stepchild. Yeah, that's a message all Albertans are waiting to hear. said...

Mound: I actually went to this event with a Young Liberal from Alberta and he liked what he heard. Granted he already is a Liberal and is attending school in BC so he may not be representative.

But I think the idea that Ignatieff may do harm by 'puffing' up regional pride and national pride, if not within Canada perhaps nationally.

I actually thought his use of the oil sands as a huge stick against the US was quite newsworthy.

WesternGrit said...

And I'm sure the Chinese and Indians will be just as happy to buy our oil and oil companies if the US wants "out". As a matter of fact Chinese companies already own Husky and Mohawk (two companies one often assume are Canadian).

We really need to end this US dependence. It whacks our economy every time there is an issue with them. The sleeping elephant rolls over, or so to speak...