The prime minister’s visit to Ottawa will give her an opportunity to learn how Canada negotiates with a more powerful neighbour. Let’s hope she is listening
When Theresa May visits Ottawa on Monday, she might have more to learn from Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau than what socks to wear to the United Nations, or how to win a majority. Now that the UK has entered into the difficult early stages of negotiating its way out of the European Union, May and her government might want to take note while in North America of how another trade relationship works and how Canada, specifically, handles its role within it.
Donald Trump’s election put the spotlight on the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), a deal between the US, Canada and Mexico that covers everything from avocados to lumber to Ski-Doos. Trump has made it clear that he believes Nafta to be “the worst trade deal ever signed”. The goal, as far as Trump is concerned? Regain control. As with similar promises from Brexiters, the impossibilities of such economic independence were totally ignored in favour of rhetoric. The unprecedented trade talks requested by both Trump and the Brexiters have arrived, and the way by which both Canada and the UK have approached negotiations is a study in contrasts – one that could be instructive for May.