OBAMA AND THE CANADIANS.

Yesterday, Canada's CTV posted a story featuring unnamed sources saying Barack Obama campaign officials called Canada's ambassador and reassured him that Obama's talk in Ohio about reopening NAFTA was just, you know, rhetoric, and that the trade deal would be safe under an Obama administration. Both the Obama campaign and the Canadian embassy deny the CTV report. Key quote from an Obama spokesperson: "Senator Obama does not make promises he doesn't intend to keep."

In Canada, it should be noted, this stuff is front-page news. And while I appreciate Kate's concerns about environmental and labor standards, there are other problems to consider when it comes to NAFTA. One might be how Canada and Mexico would view America reneging on the biggest free trade deal in history. If the U.S. pulls out of NAFTA, it's not at all clear it will be easy to renegotiate it with better labor and environmental standards, because Canada, to say nothing of Mexico, has its own set of concerns when it comes to trade. For instance, Canadians are furious about the softwood lumber dispute (I had to spend an entire month on it in grad school), and are just itching to clobber some Yankees over it.

As Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said (warned?) yesterday, "If any American government chose to make the mistake of reopening that we would have some things we would want to talk about as well." And as Federal Trade Minister David Emerson said Wednesday, "Knowledgeable observers would have to take note of the fact that we are the largest supplier of energy to the U.S. and NAFTA has been the foundation for integrating the North American energy market."

--Jordan Michael Smith

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