While Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington praising up Trump on the art of the deal, Trudeau was actually getting a bigger deal done.
By SHEILA COPPS
First published in The Hill Times on Monday, February 20, 2017.
OTTAWA—It was Canada’s hour in the European Parliament last week.
Even those parties who voted against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement were compelled to proclaim their affection for our country with hand-held signs that said, “Yes to Canada. No to CETA.”
In the end, the vote was not even close, even though parties on the left and the right were opposed.
Some 58 per cent of European parliamentarians endorsed the deal, which sets the stage for speedy implementation.
In one sense, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau has U.S. President Donald Trump to thank for the solid show of support.
Since the new American president’s inauguration a month ago, the United States administration has been systemically threatening to close borders, round up refugees and cancel international commercial agreements.
Even though American courts have slowed down some of the initiatives, the obvious message of closed America borders has not been lost on the rest of the world.
Contrary to the core group of Trump supporters, most other jurisdictions feel alienated and confused by the administration’s early direction.
European support for the free trade deal with Canada actually grew because the agreement became synonymous with an anti-Trump approach. One European parliamentarian, Artis Pabriks from the European People’s Party made an oblique reference to the plan to wall off Mexico. “Together we can build bridges, instead of a wall, for the prosperity of our citizens. CETA will be a lighthouse for future trade deals all over the world.”
While Trump vows to close borders and keep foreigners out, the Canadian prime minister is welcoming refugees and signing trade deals with Europe and beyond.
Perhaps the ongoing chaos in Washington could actually work in Canada’s favour.