Sunday, March 9, 2008
One of the biggest issues this week been the assurances that Barack Obama allegedly gave the Canadian government on NAFTA. You see, as they campaigned in Ohio, both Hillary and Obama acted skeptical about free-trade in general and NAFTA in particular. Whether either have much protectionism in them I very much doubt.
It turns out that the original source for the leak is Ian Brodie, the chief-of-staff for conservative PM Stephen Harper. What's more, it appears he also claimed that the Hillary camp offered the same reassurances.
That sounds suspicious. More likely, the conservatives are just doing their fellow-travelers in the states a good one by slandering their opponents. There's a lot cross-pollination between anglo-conservative movement (US, UK, Canada and Australia). Canadian conservatism is a pale shadow of our own more vicious variety.
NAFTA doesn't seem much of a real issue. The fact that every year Democrats play to their working-class base. The idea that blue-collar Americans (or rather, blue-collar white males) are "real Americans" and everyone else is a "special-interest" pervade our conversation. In reality, they can be as wrong as anyone else on issues, and on this one I think they are.
I don't have especially strong opinions on NAFTA. I generally favor free-trade, and I think there were good reasons for passing NAFTA at the time. On the other hand, NAFTA has largely been a disappointment, and was obviously oversold. The fact that NAFTA was so heavily debated when it was passed has given it a disproportionate place in American political mythology. In fact, the whole program has had very little effect either way on the American economy or job growth.