When's a Flip-Flop *Not* a Flip-Flop?

Sorry about the lame title, but hey, it's Friday afternoon.

The other day, Stephen Harper got some attention by saying the following:

1. If he was PM, he would attempt to persuade the Americans to honour the NAFTA panel's recent ruling on softwood lumber. He wouldn't barter away the panel's ruling - in other words, Prime Minister Harper's position would be, the rules that are in place resulted in this decision - so live with it.

2. If that didn't work, he would consider focusing his efforts elsewhere, and try and expand trade with countries like India or China. In other words, a CPC government would look beyond North America

So, is Stephen Harper making up policy on the fly? Is he just trying to play the Anti-American card now that it is fashionable to do so? (actually, in some quarters it's always fashionable to do so, but I digress ....)

Not quite. Here's an excerpt from the CPC's policy declaration, which came from the Montreal convention last March:

International Trade

In an increasing competitive global economy, trade remains the key to future prosperity in Canada. Many Canadian jobs depend heavily upon foreign markets. Those jobs are placed in jeopardy when other nations make it difficult for our exporters to sell their products.

i) A Conservative Government will bring more security to existing trade related jobs. To create new employment opportunities, our trade agenda will focus on diversifying both the products we sell abroad and the markets into which we sell those products. A Conservative Government will secure access to international markets through a rules based trading system. A Conservative Government will strive to maximize the benefits we have as a free trading nation, emphasizing the need to establish trading relationships beyond North America. [emphasis added]

I've said it before, but maybe - just maybe - the people who keep writing Harper's political obituary, and that of the CPC in the next election, should think again.

More later.


At 10:35 a.m., Blogger Liam O'Brien said...

I tend to agree. Though I think Harper needs to be very careful to stress the fact that the present challenges we face (ie softwood) are primarily due to poor governance and represnetation/relation from Martin and Chretien. He should also point out that it was Canada's anti-NAFTA left (ala Barlowe, Orchard, Hurtig) that were opposed to the very types of mechanisms that would save Canada here -- stronger and more empowered dispute resolution laws and provisions and bodies...

Harper should fight for lowering industrial subsidies and tariffs. I think he's pretty committed to that vision of amore open and prosperous world.

That said, I think he needs to remind several of his caucus members, including Diane Finley in Ag. that the Tory caucus shouldn't be advocating any more protectionism or command-economy type provisions.


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