Although Justin Trudeau has done a superb job managing the NAFTA negotiations with a madman, he made one slip. He went from chummy to "We won't be pushed around." You just don't say that to a Grade 5 bully in the schoolyard, unless you're in Grade 8. It would have been sufficient to say, "We don't agree to the terms and conditions on offer." The minute it was personalized, the discussion with Donald Trump was over.
Extraordinary to think such a tiny miscue can change the course of history, but that appears to be the case. On the other hand, if not that, it would've been something else. Trump is a man-child and subject to the emotions of a little boy, which he exhibits every day on Twitter.
Of course we are going to be pushed around. We've put our life in America's hands.
The problem, as I used to explain to my directors many years ago when they would rail on about the annoying differences between how banks lend money to goodwill businesses and asset-based businesses (I'm the former), is it doesn't matter what we think. It's their money. If you don't want to be undermined by a bank don't ask for their money.
It's America's market and they can do whatever they like, even if they have agreed by international treaty to abide by approved rules of engagement. They break rules all the time when they aren't happy. Sometimes they invade countries and sometimes they help them. Depends on their national interests at the time or the moods of their presidents.
I used to watch these proclivities every four years for 20 years in New Hampshire where I was partner in a state-wide business magazine. At Primary time, we were important for five or 10 minutes. Canada was always in some conflict with America and I would listen to potential presidential candidates grumble about Canada and how wimpy or unfair we were. They were quite candid with us in briefings, as I did not volunteer my citizenship. My business partner thought it was funny as I questioned the hopeful's acolytes on their fear of such a small peaceable country.
America has done very well by free trade and Canada. They get lots of oil at good prices. They have an agreement in the case of a catastrophe where we are not allowed to cut those oil supplies even if we need it for...