BONOKOSKI: Chrystia Freeland rises to the challenge of protectionism’s clown prince

When Chrystia Freeland was first tapped by the prime minister to be Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, critics could be excused for thinking she was in over her head — which is no reflection on her diminutive stature.

While her previous career was that of a journalist, she was more a member of the academic crowd and not the inked-stained wretches who comb current events and policy initiatives in search of dirt.

Her last book, published in 2012, was titled, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.

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It had many of us running to our Funk & Wagnalls to look up plutocrat.

This is a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but suffice Freeland’s evisceration of the plutocracy was not the lightest of reading.

But negative first impressions of Freeland can now to allocated to the circular file known as the wastebasket.

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If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a legitimate star in his cabinet it is Chrystia Freeland, who makes her predecessor Stephane Dion look exactly what he was in that portfolio — weak, ineffective and almost laughable.

The other night, when she received the Diplomat of the Year Award from Foreign Policy Magazine, Freeland gave a speech to a crowd of high-level international policy wonks in Washington, D.C., that never once mentioned the bane of her existence in trying to ensure NAFTA is not swept away by the clown prince of American protectionism.

She never mentioned Donald Trump by name, but he was in her sights from the moment she loaded her speech with a rebuke of Trump’s populist tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum under the bogusly contrived guise that it was an American security issue.

And nor did she mention the two Trump surrogates and economic advisors, Peter Navarro and Larry Kudlow, who accused Trudeau of “betraying” their president, and therefore having a “special place in hell.”

She wisely ignored these attack dogs, and let them sleep, with Kudlow now recovering from a mild, post-rant heart attack.

“Facts matter. Truth matters. Competence and honesty among elected leaders and our public service matter,” Freeland told the Washington gathering, citing that Trump’s tariffs are illegal under both NAFTA and WTO rules.

She then called Trump’s accusations that Canadian metal products represent a threat to American security as both “absurd” and “hurtful,” and said that Canada had no choice but to reciprocate with tit-for-tat, dollar-for-dollar tariffs of its own.

She called the American tariffs a “naked example of the United States putting its thumb on the scale, in violation of the very rules it helped to write.”

After meeting Thursday with Trump’s main NAFTA negotiator Robert Lighthizer to keep the modernizing of the three-country trade pact from disappearing down the proverbial bowl, Freeland was off to Toronto for a scheduled meeting with her newest ally in this war of words and actions, Ontario Premier-designate Doug Ford.

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“The stakes are high,” Ford said Wednesday, following a meeting with auto and steel industry executives. “Thousands of jobs rely on the outcome of these (NAFTA) talks. Thousands of Ontario families are counting on us to defend their interests.”

After stating that “name-calling is not acceptable whatever,” the often-blustery Ford said he wanted “to be very clear that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our federal counterparts” — even though he was highly critical of the Trudeau government during his run for leadership of his province’s Progressive Conservatives.

What Freeland, herself, wanted to make very clear was that Trump’s tariffs and NAFTA renegotiations were two separate matters.

One does not kill off the other.

But they do inflict wounds.

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies