Much of the United States’ economic policy agenda in 2018 has revolved around instituting higher tariffs, protectionism, and mitigating perceived or real trade deficits. This has extended to the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA for short, which U.S. president Donald Trump has called “the worst trade deal ever.”
We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada.Both being very difficult,may have to terminate?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2017
Amid NAFTA renegotiations in mid-2018, the following copy-and-paste message appeared, attributed to a Floridian judge named Robert Meadows:
Subject: Canada/USA………an apology
This is an open letter written by a Florida judge about the CANADA/USA relationships & history.
Robert Meadows (Circuit Court Judge, Florida) wrote:
“Have you ever stopped to consider how lucky we Americans are to have the neighbors we have? Look around the globe at who some folks have been stuck sharing a border with over the past half century:
North Korea / South Korea
West Germany / East Germany
Greece / Turkey
Iran / Iraq
Israel / Palestine
India / Pakistan
China / Russia
We’ve got Canada! Canada. About as inoffensive a neighbor as you could ever hope for. In spite of all our boasts of “American exceptionalism” and chants of “America first,” they just smile, do their thing and go about their business. They are on average more educated, have a higher standard of living, free health care, and almost no gun problems. They treat immigrants respectfully and already took in over 35,000 Syrians in the last two years.
They’re with us in NATO, they fought alongside us in World War I, World War II, Korea, the Gulf War, the Bosnian War, Afghanistan, the Kosovo War and came to our defense after 9/11. There was that one time when Canada took a pass on one of our wars: Vietnam. Turned out to be a good call.
They’ve been steady consumers of American imports, reliable exporters of metals and petroleum products (they are the biggest importer of U.S. products from 37 states), and partnered with NASA in our space missions.
During 911 many aircraft were diverted to Newfoundland, an island province off Canada’s east coast where Americans were housed in people’s homes for two weeks and treated like royalty. In return for their hospitality, this administration slapped a 20% tariff on the products of Newfoundland’s only paper mill, thereby threatening it’s survival.
And what do Canadians expect of us in return? To be respected for who and what they are: Canadians. That’s what I call a good neighbor.
But the King of Chaos couldn’t leave well enough alone. Based on his delusions of perpetual victimhood, out of the clear blue, he’s declared economic war on Canada. On CANADA! And he did it based on Canada being a national security risk to the US! For no good reason, other than the voices in his head that told him it was a war he could win. So why not do it, then?
Trump went ahead and imposed his tariffs on aluminum and steel even though we have a trade surplus with Canada on those products! Trudeau retaliated in kind. And now this morning, the White House is preparing a new wave of tariffs in retaliation for Trudeau’s retaliation. This time he threatens a tariff on automobiles even though 70% of their components originate in the U.S.! It’s just a temporary spat, right? Except for that smile on Vladimir’s face in the Kremlin, as the NATO pact unravels a little more with each passing day.
Again, we’re talking about Canada. Our closest ally, friend and neighbor.
On behalf of an embarrassed nation, people of Canada, I apologize for this idiotic and wholly unnecessary attack. Please leave the back channels open. We the People of progressive persuasion stand with you.
The post’s basic facts are correct. President Trump did impose tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel parts, despite a US$8.4 billion trade surplus in 2017. Those were explained by the United States government as follows:
However, the international shipment of non-U.S. goods through the United States can make standard measures of bilateral trade balances potentially misleading. For example, it is common for goods to be shipped through regional trade hubs without further processing before final shipment to their ultimate destination. This can be seen in data reported by the United States’ two largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico.
The U.S. data report a $17.1 billion goods deficit with Canada in 2017, and a $71.0 billion goods deficit with Mexico. Both countries, however, reported substantially larger U.S. goods surpluses in the same relationship. In 2017, Canada reported a $97.6 billion surplus, and Mexico a $132.4 billion surplus.
The Trump administration also did threaten auto tariffs in August 2018, and the issue as of late September is far from resolved — although the U.S. International Trade Commission did unanimously overturn restrictions on Canadian newsprint.
However, the attribution on this piece as it has been appearing on social media networks is wrong. Although “Robert Meadows,” described here as “a Circuit Court judge,” is named as the author of this piece, there is no Robert Meadows working as a circuit judge anywhere in Florida.
There is a private attorney named Robert “Bob” Meadows running for that very position in the state’s 19th Judicial Circuit, which covers the eastern counties of St. Lucie, Martin, Okeechobee, and Indian River, but it would have been very difficult to believe that any self-described nonpartisan candidate would write anything so nakedly political at the same time that he is running in a nonpartisan race — even if his office had not flatly denied it.
As yet, we have not been able to track down the post’s true author.