A lot of the hairbrained editorializing on the Buy America provisions in the stimulus package suggests that Obama will get cross-ways with the Europeans and Canadians if he were to implement the measures, and that a trade war would be provoked.
This is ridiculous. As we pointed out last year during the Ohio primaries, the rightwing Canadian government tried to sabotage the Obama candidacy with the NAFTA-gate leaks. Now they're trying to do the same to his administration. Think of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a little Karl Rove of the North.
As we've been pointing out, there has been a massive corporate lying campaign about the iron and steel provisions for U.S. transit projects. Now, corporations have teamed up with Canada and some of the knuckle-dragging EU governments to throw just enough fake spin to try to fool U.S. policymakers into thinking these measures are WTO-illegal. They're not.
And, as it turns out, Canadians actually want the right to invest in themselves as well. Read this from the Toronto Star:
"Unfortunately, rather than working co-operatively and practically for an exemption, Canadians politicians ... have been publicly lecturing Americans about their `international obligations' and the theoretical virtues of global free trade," wrote Erin Weir, economist with the United Steelworkers' Canadian arm, in The Progressive Economics Forum.
"This argument is not correct in the current economic context and certainly will not be very persuasive south of the border."
Scott Sinclair, senior trade analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, agrees. "As far as I can tell," he says, "the provision included in the stimulus package will not violate U.S. international treaty obligations." He cautions that Day "should know better," adding: "I think there is a back story here.",,,
"I think they want to knock Obama off balance and gain influence over his trade policy from the outset," said Sinclair. "They are enlisting the support of foreign governments, and so you have (British Prime Minister) Gordon Brown and Stockwell Day talking about it."...
NDP Leader Jack Layton agrees Ottawa is "failing to do what other countries are doing to ensure some of the work in government procurement has a big Canadian component." Says Layton: "Instead of doing his homework, Day is huffing and puffing – and this isn't a house that can be blown down."
We should work together "to ensure both of our stimulus packages work" he says, and concentrate on the dumping of cheap steel on the Canadian market from offshore.