Canada-EU Trade: Harper’s triumph

This deal is one of the things newspapers will mention when the prime minister retires, writes Paul Wells


Yves Logghe/AP

Flip it around. Every delay in reaching an agreement with the EU on freer trade in goods and services has been merrily mocked by a few critics in the gallery, yours truly first among them. And if Stephen Harper had failed to conclude this deal, having taken negotiations this far, he would have durably wrecked Canada’s reputation as a serious trading nation.

(That goes doubly so now that Canada and the EU have reached an agreement in principle. Could it still fall apart? It could, although my test on this, for reasons I explained long ago, is the reaction of the Europeans. I’m told there is no love lost between Harper and José Manuel Barroso; Barroso would not waste time in Brussels on an empty dog and pony show so Harper could duck a few questions about Mike Duffy. The Europeans think this is real. For now we should take today’s announcement at face value. The Council of Canadians sure does.)

Well, if delay was worth criticism and failure would have been read as a career-threatening personal defeat, success must be counted as a personal triumph for Stephen Harper. When his political career ends, this is one of the first three things the newspapers will mention.

The details emerging suggest limited progress on the hardest files. Supply management endures. Public procurement will be open only above certain threshold values. But even here, half a loaf is still a hell of a loaf: doubling European cheese imports puts real competitive pressure on Canadian dairy, and enhanced market access to the world’s largest single market—still twice the size of China’s in dollar terms—will be a powerful boost to Canadian exporters. And an incentive to Canadian businesses that aren’t currently exporting, or which export only to the U.S., to pick up their game.

Best of all, any advantage offered by any province and its municipalities to European importers must, in simple logic, be made available to businesses from other Canadian provinces. This accord will act powerfully to deepen the still fragmented internal Canadian market. In a week when some cabinet ministers were turning cartwheels because it will now be legal to drive from Hull to Ottawa with a bottle of wine, that’s an overdue change. I’m on the record being skeptical Harper couldn’t close this deal, and I’m happy to eat crow. This CETA deal will be the most powerful pro-market accomplishment of any Canadian government in a quarter century. 

Harper’s manner all along has been striking in its departure from the style of his predecessors. As I wrote in my first article on this process, more than six years ago, he let a provincial premier, Quebec’s Jean Charest, lead in the early going. He included every provincial government in the negotiating delegations from the outset, not simply producing a deeper agreement than would otherwise have been possible, but simply making an agreement possible because Ottawa could not have done this alone. And while his low-key style would have looked risk-averse if he had failed, it didn’t fail; Harper avoided most of the heated emotion that surrounded the last big free-trade efforts of the Mulroney era; and he now has a substantial victory in a year that hasn’t seen many.

The ball’s now in the other parties’ court. Thomas Mulcair has sounded like a critic of everything to do with trade who holds out the inexplicable possibility that he might support this deal anyway. Justin Trudeau has sounded like a robust free trader who isn’t at all pleased that Harper might actually produce a deal. Either could wind up on either side of this debate.

For Trudeau, in particular, it’s a tough call. When I arrived in Ottawa in 1994, a Chrétien staffer said to me, “John Turner supported Meech Lake and opposed free trade. He was wrong on both.” That flippant analysis would start a bar fight in any Liberal saloon in the country to this day, and Trudeau now faces a choice much like the one that faced Turner. But these fights on the undercard matter less than the very substantial victory Stephen Harper won today. He needed it.


Canada-EU Trade: Harper’s triumph

  1. So. There will be a definite up-grade in the quality of the wine-and-cheese
    receptions around the Hill. This we know.
    After an admittedly quick scan for European commentary, which does not
    seem to yet recognize how their world has changed, I guess we should
    feel blessed with whatever Ivison’s sources choose to have us know.

    So i’m turning all the puffery ( 80k jobs !!) off for a few years and going
    back to watching Terminator cops shoot beanbags at unarmed, if mouthy,
    people. Violence. Yes.

    • Harper being upset that Barroso wouldn’t help him distract from the Senate scandal, contradicts Tim Harper’s claim that the PM is trying to use the deal to distract from the senate scandal. Somehow.

      Pretty clear who the idiot is – he’s red and furry and plays the drums.

      • Harper being upset that Barroso wouldn’t help him distract from the
        Senate scandal, contradicts Tim Harper’s claim that the PM is trying to
        use the deal to distract from the senate scandal. Somehow.

        Heh. That’s what you took from the fragment I clipped from Wells’ piece? Read it again, perhaps in context this time. And rest assured I will lose not one wink of sleep over your evaluation of my mental faculties.

        • Unfortunately I don’t have access to the text as written in your fevered mind. I can only read the text at your link.

          Tim Harper: Harper using trade deal to distract from Senate.

          Wells: Harper sad Barroso not helping use trade deal to distract from Senate.

          • It’s painfully obvious what johng is saying. It’s painfully obvious you haven’t a clue. Stop embarrassing yourself.

          • That it’s “painfully obvious” to SomeCanFloat guarantees the laughs can’t be far behind.
            But I’m guessing that john is just self-conscious enough of his own nuttiness that he’s not going to let the rest of us in on it.

  2. he let a provincial premier, Quebec’s Jean Charest, lead in the early
    going. He included every provincial government in the negotiating
    delegations from the outset, not simply producing a deeper agreement
    than would otherwise have been possible, but simply making an agreement
    possible because Ottawa could not have done this alone.

    But…but…I thought Harper was an isolationist control freak who couldn’t work with anyone. That’s what everyone else says.

    Stuff like this is why you are one of the very few in our media that I have any trust in. Nice to read something that isn’t just lazy over-reliance on a tired narrative.

    • Don’t forget that other fact that I see posted on here all the time, i.e., that Harper has accomplished, and will accomplish, nothing positive of any significance or substance whatsoever. Ever. And he lacks vision. And he can’t get a deal done anywhere with anyone. Because everyone else in the world hates him. And so on.

      • That’s all just envy! The Canadian political elites have never understood, nor have they accepted the fact that a man like Harper could possibly become PM.

        It bothers a lot of the elites today that Harper is PM and has been PM for so long, AND is being successful! I consider some members of the media to belong to this political elite class.

  3. I guess the poll numbers had nothing to do with harper being in Brussels today. As long as the media are willing to write puff pieces about corrupt harper government, justice will never be served properly in this country. As a Canadian taxpayer, I don’t want a corrupt PM running my country, I don’t care how many trade deals he cuts.

    • What puff pieces are you referring to? This piece by Wells?…
      If any laws were broken, then justice will take place, regardless of how many journalists choose to write about any given subject. If you feel that your PM is corrupt, then report it to the RCMP, vote for someone else, or simply move, if it’s so intolerable that it clouds any accomplishments made by this government.

      • the puff piece im talking about, are just sound bites the author takes from con photo opp in Brussels. their are no details, and the media are playing up to, only sound bites. does the author really know everything that’s in this deal ? Do you know ? Feel free my friend to tell us, we Canadians would love to know the full context of this agreement. Maybe a sound decision could be made by 100% of Canadian taxpayer representation(opposition), not 40%. The only accomplishments that this government ever made is, destroying democracy and creating an atmosphere of corruption that will smell long after their turfed from office, and that will be harpers legacy.

        • “Maybe a sound decision could be made by 100% of Canadian taxpayer representation(opposition), not 40%.”
          You’re so right. Unless 100% of Canadians vote for a Prime Minister, every decision he or she makes is illegitimate and bad.
          That’s one of the many things that was so awesome about Jean Chretien: 100% of Canadian taxpayers voted for him.

        • Vote for LPC in Federal elections in which Chretien scored *majority* governments:

          2000: 40.8%
          1997: 38.5%
          1993: 41.3%

          If Harper’s leadership is illegitimate in some manner due to the percentage of the vote the CPC took, so too was Chretien’s.

          Personally, I think this is a good argument for the preferential ballot, but that’s just me.

        • Your empty statements are bordering on the feeble minded side. There is no substance within your post, whatsoever!

          I’m not surprised you can’t find anything good to say about Harper; you live in a world of your fantasy, whereas Harper and so many others live and want to live in the real world.

          • you seem to be enjoying them all the time. your always quick to respond. no, I cant find anything good to say about harper, can you ? he should be before a judge, but with the Post Media, G@M, and Sun, Im sure their will always be fluff to print for harper. I don’t ever recall you agree with anyone here, ever, so suck it up buttercup.

    • You’re right, polls numbers from EKOS which came out after Harper left for Brussels are the reason he’s there. Going to Brussels to sign the largest free trade deal in Canadian history is clearly just a cover up so that he can avoid the House of Commons.

      All these Conservative puppet reporters need to stop pretending that signing the largest trade deal in Canadian history is a big deal. They keep writing puff pieces like this is at all a significant event, they should be reporting the important things. Shame on you Mr. Wells! You should be reporting on things like the various scandals with no new information that have been in the news for months, and how the government is down in one poll two years away from the next federal election.

      Look I know you don’t like Prime Minister Harper and the current government and that’s fine,but do you realize how idiotic you sound when you post such ridiculous drivel?

      • you mean corrupt PM Harper. what planet do you live on. So the cons don’t track their own polling do they ? Harper new these numbers were coming down the pipe before he left, its just, your as naïve as the rest. I predicted here on this site 2 weeks ago, harper would get on a plane the same day the budget comes down(I was right). And it seems some do agree with my, what you call drivel. Who knows, harper may have dangled a special carrot in front of Barroso in order to bring him face to face(corruption is no stranger to harper). do you know everything about this deal ? If you do, please feel free to tell us Canadian taxpayers. your as much in the dark as the rest of Canada.

        • So Harper must have bribed Barroso.
          Ladies and Gentlemen, Harper Derangement Syndrome, Exhibit A.

          • Bribed Barroso, or possibly blackmailed Barroso… Let’s not leave out blackmail from the list of Root Canal’s possible conspiracy theories.

          • Maybe Harper’s famed goons actually KILLED Barroso, and the guy there on the podium with Harper is a fake/double — sorta like what they used to do in Mission Impossible and Scooby Doo all the time, you know, with latex masks and all.

          • You got the fake and goons right anyway !

          • Well, you now how those Egyptians believe that sharks are Israeli spies…


            …and that birds are Israeli spies…


            …it’s not such a stretch to think that some lunatics would believe that Barroso is in fact the terminator from Terminator 2. You can’t put it past them.

          • As an another example…

            In Venezuela the military raided a toilet paper factory.


            And within the group of our friends on the left, many of them will actually believe that (a) the toilet paper shortage was caused by incompetent or evil toilet paper makers, (b) that it’s an appropriate role for government to be raiding toilet paper factories, (c) the government will do better at making toilet paper, (d) it’s perfectly normal for a country to run out of toilet paper, and (e) you need big government to solve problems like an entire nation unable to wipe their behinds.

            It’s not such a stretch to think that some lunatics would believe that Barroso is in fact the Wizard of Oz.

          • A government trying to control prices – outrageous! That would never happen under a strong, stable Conservative government.

          • If you want to talk about something else, then start your own thread. Don’t hit the reply button if you’re not replying.

          • I see you’ve got your anti-irony shield on on ‘extra strong’ . I assume you were all issued one after the throne speech.

          • God only knows what the heck you are talking about. Are you a drunk?

          • I know you’re not this dumb. I also know you think everyone else is – but please

          • Yes, you must be drunk.

          • I’ve got my money on Force-choke.

          • Or threatened him with military action. Cuz you just know Harper would do that.

          • I am guessing it was his traditional ‘I’m not taking no for an answer’.

          • I never said bribed, you said that. I said harper dangled some kind of carrot to get this guy to show up(this was just too convenient after a yawning throne speech) to sign a piece of paper. now, I never seen what was on that paper, and don’t think you did. but I can assure you, every time this guy(harper) tries to cut any kind of a deal, theirs always some kind of corruption attached to it(F-35, robo calls, dean, peter, duffy. wallin and brazman). will I keep on going ? someone will have a secret to tell about this story. we havnt heard the last. how come your buddy harper has been on the lamb for the last 5 months, because of corruption, that why.

          • Harper’s been eating nothing but lamb for the last 5 months? Now THERE’S a story that cries out for investigation. When will Harper come clean about this?

          • First of all, you’re nuts.

            Secondly, it’s not on the sheep! It’s “on the lam”!

        • You’re right that I don’t know the details in this deal. However, I do know that 10 provincial premiers, at least 1 former premier (Jean Charest), and the federal Tories all support this deal.
          Furthermore, I’m willing to bet that while Mulcair and Trudeau will at first do some grand-standing and lamenting (probably about the supply-management stuff, to gain support from dairy farmers), they will ultimately either support the deal, or at the very least abstain from voting on it if it comes to a vote in the House, rather than outright voting against it (although less likely than flat-out voting for the deal).
          (A third possibility is an open vote, where you’ll get a mixed bag of some opposition MPs voting for, and some against.)
          Your statement that “Canada is being run by 40% taxpayer representation” will hold no water when push comes to shove, and the opposition parties are asked flatly whether or not they support this deal.

          • You mean the Progressive Conservatives Jean Charest(didn’t he go down in defeat for corruption)(he even lost his own seat if I can recall), Cathy Dunderdale and Brad. Wow, that carries a lot of weight. And now harper is at 26%. it just goes to show how stupid and naïve you goons are.

          • The PQ, Quebec Liberals, and CAQ all came out in support of the new trade deal today. The PQ, with 32% of the popular vote, the PLQ with 31% and the CAQ with 27% all support the new trade deal. Using your method, that’s a whopping 90% Quebec taxpayer representation from a province that is traditionally the most antagonistic towards anything Ottawa has to offer (and it also happens to be where a lot of Canada’s dairy farmers are located, so one of the hardest hit from the supply-management provision). I’d say that carries a tremendous amount of weight.
            When this goes to a vote in Ottawa, I can almost guarantee that the Liberals and the NDP will back it, meaning a good 90% or so of Canadian taxpayer representation will back it.

          • You do realize this idea originated in Quebec, don’t you?

          • Oh, please!

            According to your logic, the senate scandal started in Saskatchewan and PEI and where does Mac Harb live again???

            You are clearly upset that Harper has pulled this off and now you are looking for any excuse to not have to call it a Harper success story.

          • So you don’t know the history of this – at all?. I love the way you lay out your ignorance on a subject for all to see. Please keep doing it.

          • the libs or the dippers have not come out in support of it yet. harper has been told by the rank and file, if he dosnt bring the numbers up soon, he will be forced to move aside and let someone else come in to try to clean up his mess. harper needed something tangible to put together, to at least say he did something while in office, for all the taxpayers money he wasted while in power. the con rank and file are pissed, and he also needed some red meat to bring to the CON vention in Calgary this month or they would’ve disowned him. this may seem like an implausible scenario to you, but, if the numbers don’t go up, the cons aint going to watch the libs or the dippers have a crack at the PM, they(cons) will dump harper in a New York Minute. harper may also be trying to also get his numbers up to call a possible snap election before 2015, and he can legally do it. if an opposition party gets in office, you will never see another con government ever again.

  4. I’m personally delighted about this. I can forgive Harp a lot…..not everything, but a lot…. for this deal.

    Jean Charest’s baby, nurtured by The Great Recession, and with Harp as midwife….it finally made an appearance.

    Now then…..on to China, and fast………..!

    • Actually, I think it’s on to the TPP, moreso than China. Harper has been trying to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership for some time now. Hopefully he’ll now have a bit of wind in his sails, and he can nail that one too, sometime soon.
      (Also, isn’t “moreso” a word? Why is it underlined in red?…)

      • There are several deals in the works right now, and we want all of them. China, India, TPP, South Korea…..the more trade the better.

        ‘Moreso’ isn’t underlined in red for me….but maybe this will help

    • If you say it was Charest’s baby (which I dispute)why then has Justin not come out to speak on this deal?????? Why is Justin hiding?

      • ‘Jean Charest’s baby’

        • Yes, my mistake. I was thinking Charest and writing Chretien. I will correct it. Thank you.

        • So why is Justin not speaking out on this EU trade accomplishment???

  5. ” Supply management endures.”

    Adam Smith – Wealth Of Nations:

    By means of glasses, hotbeds, and hotwalls, very good grapes can be raised in Scotland, and very good wine too can be made of them at about thirty times the expense for which at least equally good can be brought from foreign countries. Would it be a reasonable law to prohibit the importation of all foreign wines, merely to encourage the making of claret and burgundy in Scotland?

  6. If Harper has defied his normal ideology and kept some protection for “dairy” “Ontario Milk Producers” etc then it’s a triumph and he deserves credit.
    But the European farmers are heavily subsidy dependent, so we’ll see if Canadians can compete.
    I can’t see the dairy industry complaining about some cheaper specialty cheeses. Let’s face it it’s not likely going to change the Canadian price and consumption of those big $4.99 Kraft cheddar supermarket blocks.
    I also think Niagara should be ready to compete with European wine, after all Chile is already in big time.
    So unless there is some big bogey man in the details the Opposition parties should just support it as Ontario Liberals have and move on.

    • One thing I would have liked to see is some freeing of Canada’s dairy market.

      Having said that I do accept that many other countries subsidize their farmers in ways that Canada doesn’t. However, what I’ve never seen is an analysis of how that subsidization specifically affects price. E.g., how much of the price differential on the price of 1 litre of milk produced in BC vs WA is due to the US subsidization of dairy farmers? Is it 95%, or is it 5%, or what? Anyone have a clue?

      • But opening up the cheese market is like opening up a start to competitiveness in the dairy industry. It’s a good first step in letting the dairy farmers know that not all is written in stone forever.

        I think Harper did a great job finding some sort of balance there. Good work.

      • One dairy farmer I saw on TV said the problem is not this specialty cheese market, but in fluid milk.
        Europe is not involved in that of course but the new Asia Pacific agreement which includes US, could bring in fresh milk competition over the border.
        The survival of the Ontario family farm would then be a concern. Chicken and eggs would also face cheap American highly subsidized (the famous Farm Bills) exports to Canada.
        So we’ll see how Harper handles that one when the time comes.

        • I don’t know how he gets that one without eliminating supply magic on that one. He’s dodged a bullet for the most part on this one.

  7. Good on Harper but, given his record on transparency and disclosure, I think we should restrain our jubilation until we see the fine print.

  8. “…doubling European cheese imports puts real competitive pressure on Canadian dairy,”

    At the moment i don’t think i can manage anything more robust then a slow
    hand clap for a PM actually doing his job, instead of signing off on
    purile ads attacking third party leaders because he thinks there isn’t
    room in this country for a family name more polarizing than his own, or
    if the other guy deigns to wear a beard and holds dual citizenship. But
    give him his due, if this pans out it will be down in good part to his
    political skills – pity he doesn’t employ them on the energy/climate
    change file…or anything else really.[ Actually running around the world trying to sign Canada up to new trade deals IS definitely one of the very few check marks this guy gets in my good/bad boy book]

    As for the cheese…i’m more than happy to think i might not have to travel 12 hours to my nearest Italian deli [ awesome one in Edmonton on 95th and 108th] to
    pick up some great and affordable provolone.[ why do we make such
    mediocre knock offs of European cheeses?] But competitive pressure from a
    political union that spends more on agri subs in a year or two then
    Canada does on tanks in a decade or two…please!!!!!
    Nevertheless if it does start to break down provincial trade barriers a one Canada
    nationalist like myself [or Trudeau once he figures his best line out]
    shouldn’t begrudge some progress.

    • I saw something earlier today from a supposed leaked document that talked about the European protection of what they consider sacred agricultural products. You know how they are about a cheese like Reggiano and the naming of wines. I am wondering if they’regoing to insist Canadian cheese manufacturers can’t steal names like parmesan and feta. I think it would be a good thing – the stuff bears no resemblance to the real thing. Of course corps like Kraft would not be happy- another positive…

      • Yeah, i can’t see Canadian tire brand brie going over big in France. We’ll just have to ship it to Texas instead.

  9. The EU, and Pacific Trade pact may be good for companies but not good for Canadians. Nafta is a prime example. Canadians will lose control of their economy. I am a 70 year old Financier. It will result in lower wages.

    • This is the only rational comment made here so far.
      I have never seen so many pro Harper supporters in one site since he was elected.
      The corporate control of the Conservative Party in Canada is well known outside of these circles. Everywhere else Harper is known as a psychopath and a control freak. It really concerns me that people in Canada East think that Harper is doing, or has ever done, anything worthwhile for the people of Canada.
      Try looking up the website to refresh your memory of just some of the things he is famous for.
      This trade agreement may be just the last thing he does in order to leave some kind of legacy for himself. Just like Mulroney.
      Harper is, and has always been the laughing stock on the world stage. His actions are what has kept Canada out of the Security Council of the UN. His claim to fame has been to write a history of hockey, which has been as well accepted as anything else he has done.
      Two books some of you should read:
      1. Harperland
      2. On the Take: Crime and Corruption in the Mulroney years

      As someone else suggested, Canadians have as good a chance in besting the Europeans in a trade deal as they have had with the Americans and NAFTA.

      • Just an additional comment on this if I may.
        I was talking to my daughter in France this morning. She is a history teacher at an international school there. She keeps up on things political. When I asked if she had heard about the Canada-EUC Free Trade deal, she was astonished. No.
        This confirms my point about Harper being considered a non-person in Europe — or anywhere else for that matter.

        • It ain’t just Harper. I’ve lived in Europe. Canada is, and always has been, a footnote to the rest of the world. We practically never, ever make the news over there, and this was the case long before Harper came along. Our not being newsworthy has absolutely nothing to do with Harper. With or without Harper, we’re not newsworthy.

          • Expect a call from Baird’s office. He’s so puffed about his influence on the world he’s expecting a Nobel.

  10. The 80k jobs claim is BS (as are Council of Canadians claims about lost jobs*). Trade doesn’t create or destroy jobs, except transitionally (some Canadian industries, e.g. dairy, will lose jobs, while others, e.g. other agricultural sectors, will gain them).

    The impact of trade is on our economic welfare. That impact is positive and small. It is positive because trade allows greater specialization of labor across countries, and bigger economies of scale (it can also break up harmful local monopolies… think of the impact of Wind or Verizon entering the Canadian mobile market).

    If you look at the CBO analysis of NAFTA, they estimate that the US gained a few billion in GDP. The impact of this deal for Canada is likely smaller.

    *This is even true in cases where we trade more with countries than they trade with us. If we import more than we export to China, then China builds up a bunch of Canadian dollars. They’re going to have to spend those sometime, and they’re going to have to spend them here (e.g. investing in Canada, which China does).

    • Gained a few billion? I think that’s laughably small, but even so, a few billion is still a big number when you consider Canada’s size. You would need more than a simple estimate by the CBO to do a fair analysis.

  11. Someone must should show me the triumph pls.

  12. Anne McClellan today on CBC radio was very pleased with the EU trade agreement. And she was and still is a Liberal.

    Harper has his own style, a style which not many members of the media fully understand or want to understand.

    Harper is his own man. He is not looking for the limelight; he is looking for substance to deliver.

    He has delivered and will deliver more before his time is up. As soon as the Supreme Court will give guidance to the senate change possibilities, Harper will reform the senate or do away with it.

    I don’t understand why people like Wells are so reluctant to consider Harper a great statesman. But that’s Well’s loss, not Harper’s.

    • Er…it might have something to do with the time he spends NOT being a great statesman – which is most of the time. Time he spends attacking political opponents well outside of the electioral writ ; time he spends avoiding or actively hobbling accountability or inquiries that might embarrass his party/govt[ ask the judge] ; time he spends needlessly making enemies, muzzling scientists,ignoring empirical evidence in favour of political populism, closing research facilities that might produce inconvenient data on environmental risks or simply antagonizing anyone who ever contradicted anything he holds to be dear and true.

      IOWs a serial passive aggressive Dick!

      • There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are optimistic and lead a happy and fulfilling life, and those who are pessimistic and are never satisfied.

        I’m so happy I am not a pessimistic person like you.

        • There are many kinds of people in this world – most of us don’t spend our whole working day or life in either camp.
          I’m fond of the Russian definition of pessimism; an pessimist is someone who’s seen more, with more of a grip on reality than your out and out optimist when it comes to human affairs.
          Actually i’m content to be in pretty near any category you aren’t.

      • You forgot to mention that he probably bribed Barosso. And there’s the matter of that missing communion wafer . . .

        • Care to refute anything that IS on my list? Yours didn’t make it for obvious reasons. Best leave the moronic responses to FV, if i were you.

        • God – can you at least show some graciousness in victory? Apparently not, it just more of the passive-aggressive chippiness. Go pour yourself a large glass of B.C. wine.

          • Can you give credit where credit is due? Are you willing to give credit to Harper for this trade deal??

    • harper is afraid to come out in the lime light, someone might ask him a tough question.

      • There is a time for press conferences, and then there are time when the PM of any country just wants to express their vision by means of the media.

        There is no need for the media to set the agenda at all times.

  13. Harper has done too many things I dislike to ever gain my vote or my respect, for that matter. But he and the government receive a thumbs up from this citizen for signing this deal. I’m glad it came together and credit where credit’s due.

    • And what, specifically, has Harper done in things you dislike to much?

      • Thank you for asking. Census, transparency (access to information), demonizing opponents, hyper-partisanship, government cuts, omnibus bills, GST cuts vs income tax cuts, muzzling scientists to the point of affecting their ability to work collaboratively, contempt for Parliament, battles with Elections Canada and antagonism toward journalists, to name a few.
        On the positive side of the ledger, I’m a monarchist, so I support the steps in that direction (RCAF, more traditional view of the Governor-General) and I’m generally supportive of the investment in the military (F-35 notwithstanding) and measures on Arctic sovereignty.

  14. NIce way to eat crow Paul and I mean that positively. You have to admit the PM was pretty smart in the way this was handled in making it public. Played you all very well. Had the press writing about the Throne speech as an attempt to change the channel and then writing that it didn’t work etc., amidst much panning and criticism of the process. Then he drops this bombshell and lo and behold, he has you all writing about this and nothing else. Bingo channel changed. Meanwhile Mulcair & Trudeau sit in the H of C all red-faced and outraged, gasping for air like fish out of water, with their issues totally buried in the EU deal media hype.
    Funny stuff.

    • So iyo the vacuousness of the throne speech was necessary in order to underscore how big a deal this trade announcement was for Harper…hmmm

    • Seems like an awfully elaborate set up. Is that what the PMO spent the summer on?

      • Hell no! He was writing his book on hockey while Rome burned.

        • Excellent contribution. It’s not a full Haper-hating conclave until somebody brings up the hockey book. I was wondering when you were going to show up.

          • :))

  15. Paul, EU cheese imports went from 3% to 7.1% of total consumption. Google, Canadian cheese consumption. We consume 420K tonne per year. 30K is only 7.1% of total consumption.. Not really that much.

  16. Wells, like you, I want to see it before I truly believe it, but like you I believe that we will see this agreement finalized soon. It’s almost unbelievable that the provinces are on board. I thought he could get a deal with Europe, but I thought it was nearly impossible for any PM to get all provinces on board, for any reason (especially Qc and Nfld, the two perpetually aggrieved provinces). Yet somehow he’s done it. Harper never gets the credit he deserves.
    Another good post Wells. Keep ’em coming.

    • Andrew Coyne et al have long advocated unilaterally just cutting import tariffs w/o reciprocal cuts in a free trade like agreement.

      So, what’s your view? Was six years worth the wait, or six years too long – we should have just cut our own and never mind whether the EU doesn’t cut import duties on Canadian goods and services?

      • He’s saying the same in today’s (Sat) column. What we give up helps us the most??

        • Well, he’s consistent, I’ll grant you that. No Adam Smith c 1776 denier he. Now, I’ll be off to shoe some workhorses.

      • Coyne has a point. Technically speaking he is right, but practically and politically I’m not so sure.

        For one thing, acting unilaterally will result in economic benefits, but the downside is that politically it would be harmful. Most people are not as smart as Coyne and would think that lowering tariffs harms the local economy rather than helps (taking a producer-centric view and ignoring the consumer side) and would vote based on that opinion, resulting in a backlash. Most people would only accept such actions if foreigners do the same.

        Secondly, it’s very much like the prisoner’s dilemma. Existing domestic tariffs are possibly the only leverage you can use to make foreigners lower their own tariffs (for reasons described in previous paragraph). Acting unilaterally would eliminate any such leverage. Free trade agreements that lower tariffs on both sides are better than unilateral action, while unilateral actions are better than no actions. So, like the prisoner’s dilemma, do you act unilaterally for a small benefit, or do you hold out, hoping that you can eventually produce bilateral actions for even more benefits?

        Anyway, that’s a very good point you have and good questions. Where do you sit? What’s your own answer to those questions?

        • I like the idea of being able to move around and work wherever. Recognizing professional designations (such as engineering) solves two problems – easier to access European qualified individuals here, and ability for Canadians to also work in that profession there.

          I’d be pissed if they just allowed in Europeans w/o reciprocal arrangements, if I was practicing in that area.

          Is Coyne’s ideal model say a Saudi Arabia where the local abundance of natural resources just allows them to import all the talent and labour, and sit back and reap the hereditary profits by birthright (obviously different where we allow immigration) ? A bit extreme of an example, admittedly.

          • Well, I’ve been thinking mostly about free trade of goods and services rather than freedom of labour movement. However, I couldn’t agree more that it would be great to recognize professional designations across borders as well.
            Saudi Arabia is a special case that in my opinion has nothing to do with free trade, but rather a population blessed with such valuable natural resources that they can afford to import all the labour, do no work themselves, and still profit immensely.
            I think that one reason why Coyne’s idea does not work well in practice:
            -when you eliminate a tariff, there are winners and losers. The losers are the domestic producers. The winners are the domestic consumers. Overall, as Coyne says, it’s better for there to be increased competition despite the fact that domestic producers have a net loss. However, the benefit of a bilateral arrangement is that it reduces the losers… domestic producers lose domestic market share but gain foreign market share in a bilateral agreement, so it’s much easier to sell politically to everyone. Humans by nature notice more what they are losing (which is tangible) than what they are gaining (which is not yet tangible) so reducing the losers as much as possible makes it easier to sell it to the public. So bilateral agreements are much easier to sell to the public politically.

  17. Now can we please get in on the talks between the US and Japan? I’d hate to see a comprehensive trade agreement between them that did not also include us.

  18. Sorry, guys. I don’t oppose free trade with anybody: in fact I support it, and if an EU deal could make our government take environmental regulations seriously, I’d be singing to the heavens. But this is not a deal! It’s an agreement, one that still needs to go through a very long process of ratification. The EU is not a unified group; and the details still haven’t been released in our country. I am starting to feel as if everyone is just so desperate for some good new from our nation’s capital they will jump on just about anything.