tv Former Ambassadors Discuss U.S.- Mexico- Canada Trade Agreement CSPAN March 4, 2019 2:08pm-3:09pm EST
published by public affairs, c-span's "the presidents" will be on shelves april 23 but you can preorder your copy as a hard cover or e-book today at c-span.org/the presidents. or wherever books are sold. up next, diplomats, government officials and industry executives break down the u.s.-mexico-canada trade agreement. former u.s. and canadian ambassadors talk about how it is changing the relationship between the two countries. hosted by the canadian-american business council here in washington, this is just under an hour. >> okay. i have to use my teacher voice
here. talk about settling down and get back to business. so this is not the first rodeo for our next set of panelists. they don't just know u.s. canadian relations. they have actually lived u.s.-canadian relations. they have all been ambassadors for either the u.s. or for canada. and several of them have held elective office and we suspect they all have some stories to tell as much as prospectives to share. moderating this discussion is emily rahala of the "washington post," she now writes about foreign affairs with a focus on canada. she previously reported for the post and for "time" in asia and she shares an overseas press club award for the internet in china. joining her on the stage is jim blanchard, u.s. ambassador to canada from 1993 to 96, he played an important part in the passage of nafta 1. he's also a former member of congress, and a former governor of michigan. and he's currently with the l.a.
piper. gary doer was canadian ambassador to the u.s., between 2009 and 2016. he previously was premiere of manitoba. he is currently a senior business adviser at denton's. and gordon giffin, was u.s. ambassador to canada from 1997 to 2001 and now a global vice chair of denton's and a member of denton's global board and u.s. board. we had hoped to have frank mckenya with us as well, he was a former canadian ambassador to the u.s., but alas, the weather did him in, aeven the sled dogs could not get him to us in washington. emily, over to you. >> hello. thank you all for joining us today. it's my pleasure to be here with three veterans of u.s.-canada affairs to discuss the future of usmca or whatever we want to call. it i'll get their views on that later. key point. i think today, we're going to
look at a few key themes. the first is how the heck did we get here? how did we get from best use to hate tweets to plane and the current statement of the bilateral relationship mean for the prospects of this agreement and i hope to draw on each of their expertise on where things were and where things are going. we're also going to talk briefly about the prospects for passing this thing, what are going to be the holdups, and what are the odds. so i think we'll start with ambassador blanchard. you were appointed ambassador in 1993. you were witness to the run-up to this thing. and you played a role in its eventual implementation. so where did things stand at that time, and how has it developed since then and what lessons can we learn from that long trajectory? >> thank you, emily. thank you for doing this. i want to mention mike kergen,
michael kergen, former canadian ambassador to the u.s. who is also here, he is here to keep us honest, he's in a later part of the program but he did remind me of something that happened recently which is the passing of former canadian ambassador to the u.s. michael wilson, and i think we all worked with mike, and wish his family and friends the very, very best. he was a wonderful public servant. and a good friend of the united states. so having said that, yes, i was back, both gordon and i were both working on the campaign for bill clinton in 1992, when bill clinton actually came to michigan and said he was going to support nafta, which made him frankly look like an incredibly courageous politician. he also said he would like some additional side agreements on environment and labor. which eventually were negotiated after the deal had been signed by president h.w. bush and brian
mulroney and salinas, so there was a period of time, after president clinton was elected where there was a lot of negotiating and hand wringing on both the canadian and mexican side, and certainly in congress, to add some side panels on environment, labor, and also trade remedies. and the issues then are pretty much the same as now. i might also add that if you switch 17 votes in the house of representatives, nafta would not have passed the house of representatives. so my gut is, it's going to pass this time, but there will be a lot of adjustments. no, i don't think anyone expects the negotiations will be reopened. but there's going to be a period of time between the time the agreement is submitted by ustr and the president to congress, and when it is actually taken up, where adjustments can be made. i see that the democrats are concerned about the patent
protection of biologics. and i know they're going to want to see some action by the mexican government in terms of making the new labor provisions enforceable. so we'll see. a lot will happen with the leadership of nancy pelosi, who really, really knows how to get things done, or knows how to slow things down until they're done right. >> that's for sure. ambassador giffin, you were there shortly after, also in the 90s, i'm wondering if you can tell aus little bit where the relationship stood at that point, this tension between, you know, a desire for trade, a desire to connect these economies, and this pushback from the left and from others on jobs and on other issues? >> thank you. it's a delight to be here. it is somehow my lot to always follow jim blanchard. but blanchard, i have to say, for those of us who have had the honor to serve as united states
ambassador to canada, blanchard is the model. he was the best. and all the rest of us had to do is try and live up to -- i have no real reason to suck up to jim, it is actually true. >> he's not running for office in michigan. yet. >> no, no. no. unlike the two of you, i have never exposed myself to the voters. i think there was a question. when i had the honor to succeed jim in canada, the relationship was in great shape, and jim and i were talking earlier, it probably had something to do with bill clinton and john craychamp, but i told him that the two of us ought to take credit for it. the relationship was terrific.
and it does sort of emanate from the chemistry of the people at the top. in my view, bill clinton always looked to john crayshang as the older brother he never had and when you think about it, they both came from small rural communities, they both were consummate politicians, who weren't given a lot of bets that they would ultimately lead their respective countries, because of the fact they came from small rural areas. and the two of them obviously rose to the peak of their profession. and were partners, not only in north america, and i think this is, it has always been an awfully important point to me, the reason that canada and the united states frankly are close,
should be close, and that the chemistry works is not just because we are next door to each other. sometimes being next door to each other causes more of the aggravations. it's because of the partnership around the world where we take our common values, principles, and work as partners around the world. that was certainly true during the clinton crayshank era. on trade, when you think about it, the current, when bill clinton was trying to get nafta passed, and he worked very hard to get it passed, the current mayor of chicago, and the guy who maybe the next mayor of chicago, rahm emanuel and bill daly, were coordinating the private sector effort to try and get nafta passed. i actually participated in that little task force to mobilize
the private sector, and the goal then was the white house would try and get the requisite number of democrats across the line to pass it. around the business community was responsible for hanging hon to t to, on to the republicans. when you think about it, it is reversed now. because in order for this new agreement to pass, the white house has to hang on to the republicans, and that's not necessarily a simple case, because there's a certain wing of the republican party that's skeptical about free trade, and the business community is going to have to lasso enough democrats to get the darn thing passed. i like jim believe it will pass. i also think there will deal, deals made that don't include negotiating the fundamental agreement, there were deals at the time with nafta, and
remember the liberal party was actually not a big fan of nafta when they won their election in 1993 and they were able to quote solve the problem after the election with some side letters. so side letters seem to be the magic sauce here to getting these deals approved. it will be, it will be arduous, but as long as the business community stays focused on pulling a number of moderate democrats across the line, and there are more than you think, of moderate democrats, they used to be an endangered species, but they're coming back. >> you make an interesting point about not just the relationship between canada and the united states, but the relationship in terms of how they worked together abroad, and ambassador, before you share your insights on washington's lackluster snow removal, which i know the audience is dying to hear, i am
wondering if you can talk about your time as ambassador, and you know, what was the cooperation then like on tpp and other trade-related issues? and you know, did you see the change that was about to hit the world? >> well, i have to mention snow. because when i did come down to washington, it was closed dune for five day, down for five days with one snowstorm and i was reminded of that yesterday when planes were being canceled left, right and center. and the "washington post," your newspaper, asked me the question, well, what do canadian does with snow? a novel question. i said we actually shovel it. we lift it. we put it in the river. we run it through turbines and we sell it back to the united states at search cents a kilowatt hour. now that did not get to the "washington post" but i will keep mentioning it over and over until i get quoted. >> i have the exclusive for
tomorrow. front line. >> do you use all your old lines. >> no, just half of them. one lawyer per megawatt beside me to get something approved. it still applies. when i got here, the biggest issue we were dealing with on trade was in the horizon tpp, but in the right in front of us, was a buy american provision, that was added by speaker pelosi to the recovery act passed by, or proposed by president obama. and i found that the most effective way for canada to eventually negotiate the only waiver for any country, that was affected by the recovery act, was to get labor. labor organizations in the united states that had members in canada, and many labor organizations for example, the steelworkers have a third of their members in canada, machinists, the auto workers
have two different organizations on either side of the border, but they work together on decisions, horrible decisions in my view, on trade like the closure of the gm plants on both sides of the border, they work together to get us the waiver. and moving to your second question, on tpp, we, one thing i did find out as ambassador, and really became very clear to me, that stake holders had a lot more say in the united states than customers, in either canada or the united states. this is something we should pay attention to, i would like the media to cover customers, as much as stakeholders. and that applies to both countries. people that drink milk in canada don't have as much say as people who produce milk. and people who are buying homes in the united states don't get as much say as the stakeholders in the u.s. this is one of the weaknesses of the trade discussions that are going on. but on tpp, we work with the
united states, we work with the white house, we work but we also work in a multi-lateral way, on intellectual property, on copyright, on patent protection, with countries like new zealand and australia. so we were dealing with the big dog, ie, the president of the united states, and the administration, but we tried to work with other countries who had a like-minded view on how we can make this agreement a better agreement. and for example, on drug patent laws, we were very successful in dealing with the united states to get a more, what we would consider to be consumer friendly provision in that agreement. i would therefore say that what this portends for us in the future, the labor with nancy pelosi will have a large say, in what's going to go on, and i know that in the past, we've used letters. i'm not convinced that it won't be an amendment to the proposal
at the end of the process, in the house. in the senate, i feel it's going to pass, as proposed by the president. but not in the house. >> all right. audience, we'll take your snow removal questions towards the end. for now, i wanted to follow up on something that ambassador giffin said about the relationship at the highest levels, between the prime minister and the president, this is an audience question, can the former ambassadors talk about the current relationship between the president and the prime minister, and how that compares to previous points in time? and i think particularly, in terms of how it relates to getting this deal done, to getting it ratified, to getting it through. >> i happen to think that the current deal, nafta 2, whatever we call it, could have been finalized about a year ago. but for the cheap theatrics coming from the white house and some of the advisers who made a lot of stupid remarks about the
prime minister, and the foreign minister, and others. so the tow at the top is clearly important. when the first nafta was done, the president, the the prime minister was new and the president had been there about a year and they were just getting acquainted but the working relationship quickly became very, very good, and very, very positive. gordon did mention that liberal, the liberal platform called for renegotiating nafta. but we were able to find out, and i was working with that group, that privately, that mr. cretiegn was a free trader and he wanted to look for a way to get out from under the quote pledge to renegotiate and the side letters and the side panels were the way to do it. the relationship now, i don't have to tell anyone here, it depends on the time of the day and the issue. we have a severely abnormal behaving president. and i feel sorry that canada has
to deal with it. even adjust to it. but the whole world has the same issue and the reality is most members in congress are probably all, have a very positive feeling toward canada, and know that canada is our partner in almost everything we do, and as gordon said, we work all around the world together. so that's the fact of life. and the big thing, i think, for passage of the u.s.-mexico-canada agreement, is for the president to be quiet and let a very effective trade representative robert lighthizer handle this with canada. be quiet. as gordon said. let industry and others really start working this. and the labor unions are going to need to see that the provisions on labor, regarding mexico, are really going to be implemented by the mexican congress, and enforceable. and then they will have a hard
time saying this isn't the better agreement than the original nafta. the question is how many votes will that bring? >> so i just want to observe that i don't know how good the relationship is at the top. we see the public theatrics. i think someone on our program later today who doesn't have the word former in front of her title, the current united states ambassador to canada, kelly craft, can probably give us better insight into that. because sometimes what is going on in public is theater, and not necessarily exactly what's going on behind the scenes. i will say, i have to, you know, be somewhat jingle-istic because i was the u.s. ambassador to canada, there were times when the foreign minister of canada says things about the united states that are not warm and endearing. so it is not as if the
commentary is entirely one-dimensional. so i actually -- a deal was made, right? so the deal is in place. so there had to be some consensus in order to reach a deal. everybody put a little water in their wine to make it work. and frankly, i don't think the dynamic between the two countries or the three countries now is the issue. the issue is domestic politics in each of the three countries. so how we're getting along with canada is very important to me. i think we ought to be getting along extremely well, and we all even in our former years try and work on that. but the deal right now is in each of the domestic political cauldrons. not in the dynamic among the three leaders. >> just on that point, first of all, i agree with the two
speakers before me, that the relationship is very positive, between our ambassador, david mcnaughton who will be on a panel later today, and ambassador craft, from the united states, there is more constructive relationship between ambassador height lighthizer and the canadian group, the team, than there was at the beginning of the negotiations, through the negotiating process to get to an agreement. i would say one exception that is quite important to recognize from the canadian point of view, there's a lot of canadians that are concerned beyond partisan politics and beyond trade politics, and trade policy, about being labeled a national security risk. and that is the rationale to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. and canadians believe that we've
got each other's back when it comes to international situations. we've been there in the first world war, the second world war, the korean war, in afghanistan, we obviously are working together against isis. so it really does bother us to be considered a national security risk. and that's a very, very challenging situation for the government of canada. we've got to get rid of these tariffs. and certainly we've got to get rid of the precedent of claiming a trade dispute is a national security risk. that is unacceptable in my view. >> let's talk about the steel and aluminum issue. i think it's really at the heart of this, particularly for canadians. where do you see this going? is there a way out of this situation? and how do you expect the canadian side and the u.s. side to play that? ambassador blanchard? >> first of all, nobody believes that steel and aluminum from canada or mexico are a threat to our national security. nobody believes that.
so it's like a joke. angela merkel talked about that over in munich, too, you know, the steel from germany is not a threat to our national security. so how do you let, how do you get the president, and it is really the president's decision, how do you get him off the limb on that? my sense is, as we consummate the new nafta, there needs to be almost a simultaneous or at least immediately following, drop at least of the tariffs directed at canada and mexico. but probably the world. or at least most of the world. but it is just, it's just one of those myths. there's a lot of myths. i mean the president went out and said all over the country, that nafta was the worst trade agreement ever made. and then when he signed the new nafta, which is a tweaking of the current nafta, the modernization, he said it is the single most important agreement ever signed. and that we've been treated very badly by the canadians, and the
mexican, and by the way, treated very badly by the south koreans. so we're in a dream world here, folks. there is a false narrative out there. what i don't like is that his voters and supporters go along with that. i don't think most members of congress or governors or diplomats do. but this false narrative is very dangerous to our relations with the rest of the world. and i think gary doer is being pretty mild about the concern we have, about the tariffs. yes, i hope they get lifted. they add a billion of cost to ford motor. ford motor was already buying its steel from u.s. companies, for example. so this is, this is not good, but i think it will end up, they will end up being dropped. i do. >> there is actually a follow-up question from the audience, from something you said earlier, this is coming from the audience, not from me, do you really think trump can quote be quiet as you suggested? >> well, you know, i have a problem here, and a lot of you
have friends, i have psychologyists and social workers in my family, so he loves to be in the news every day, and that's an issue, so we have to find other things for him to talk about, but it would certainly, i think our trade offer has been very, very good, particularly under the circumstances, incredibly positive for the president, and they should let them manage this. and their friends in congress. and don't ignore the unions. they're going to need some help with regard to wage rates. >> on the topic of the canadian domestic political scene, another question from the audience, will canada ratify usmca before or after the u.s. congress? and i want to add, how do you think this steel and aluminum issue will play domestically and factor domestically into the canadian strategy here? >> well, first of all, i think the proposed amendments, i think
with tiwill be i don't know if they will accept letters this time around in the congress, but if the agreement is amended in the congress and moved back to the senate, and then of course, to the president, the amendments that i would anticipate will not be a difficulty for canada. stronger enforcement of labor and the environment will not be in my view a deal breaker for canada. what is very problematic for, again, the prime minister and the government, is having tariffs still there, and then ratify the agreement before the tariffs are lifted. and i think my advice to the u.s. administration, is lift the tariffs today, but my advice for the trade agreement is the same. lift them because i think it's really unacceptable for workers across canada, and for provinces, and other stakeholders, to have an agreement signed that we have to implement, and not have the
tariffs lifted beforehand. >> ambassador giffin, it seems clear to me that a lot of people want these tariffs lifted, steel and aluminum tariffs, do you see any signs that this is likely to happen? sore this just wishful thinking? >> i don't think it is wishful thinki thinking. sometimes things that are obviously in error often fall of their own weight. i actually think on trade matters the best thing this administration could do is send peter navarro to, you know, peru, or something, and -- >> not far a-enough away. not far enough away. >> north korea. >> put him on an melting ice float. >> and revoke his passport so he can't get back. i mean his view of trade is largely what's driven the bizarre outcomes we're seeing on some of these tariff issues. i agree with jim that ambassador
lighthizer, he's a pro. he's been doing trade policy work for 40 years. he worked for bob dole in the senate. this is not a guy who just, you know, fell out of bed and developed a theory about trade, which i'm not sure it doesn't apply to mr. navarro, who is also an intemperate rude person. i'm not sure what his redeeming qualities are. i'm sure he has one. so i think that would be helpful. i think that right now, the riddle is how to withdraw the tariffs and how you explain the withdrawal of the tariffs. i think that we're going to see that withdrawal in the foreseeable future. and i agree with gary, i don't know how the canadian parliament can take up this agreement while the tariffs are in place. and lastly, if i was mexico or canada, i wouldn't take it up
until the united states passes it. >> i mean there are voices within the united states saying these tariffs have actually accomplished their goals in some ways, and particularly vis-a-vis taking just generally tougher stances on trade, tougher stances on china, that it's been an effective tool, and so why take them off? >> well, the agreement for nafta part two, or whatever term they're using today, the agreement was always going to be chapter 19, stronger rules in mexico on auto and milk. and so it's hidden, none of that had to do with aluminum and steel, and you could see it coming around the corner for about a year before it actually happened. but those were the obvious areas where there would be a compromise between our two countries. and three countries in fact.
>> i've got a question from the audience for you. will the conservative canadian premiere support the package of usmca? >> well, every province has signed off on the, both tpp, labor and the environment, they're all signed off by provinces informally with the national governments negotiating on their behalf. so everything in tpp for example, was signed off by a number of different premieres from a number of different political parties. and many of the provisions in the new draft agreement is actually right from the trans-pacific partnership. and so the only area, you know, the area that would be difficult, if the tariffs are lifted, for some provinces, maybe the change in the pharmaceutical provisions but that's something also, the drug patent legislation, and i know people here have views in favor of that, and some have views
against it, but it might be proposed to be changed in the contents. i'm not sure. but that would be one of the areas that maybe a domestic debate in canada. but everybody signs off, and everybody's consulted. the prime minister consulted the premieres before agreeing to the final draft agreement. >> let's switch to the u.s. domestic political scene. and specifically, get into the nitty gritty of if and how and when this is going to get through. a few of you have mentioned side letters, amendments, what do you see as the key issues, and what do you predict in terms of what still needs to be hashed out before this makes it through? >> well, i think jim has done a good job of outlining the key issues that have to be addressed. enforcement obviously is a high profile issue.
around particularly labor rights. and environmental standards. the pharmaceutical issue obviously is a big one. the thing, and i don't know the answer to this, because i haven't actually personally studied it, but i'm a little concerned that if it, if the agreement gets amended, under trade promotion authority, this are no amendments permitted as i understand the law. and whether or not if there is an amendment, you then destroy the preferred status of the legislation, which would then require two-thirds in the senate instead of 50%, i don't know, so somebody knows the answer to that. i'm sure bob lighthizer knows the answer to that. but i'd be a little careful about the idea of amending it, because i think it may screw up the procedural status in the congress, and make it more difficult.
again, i think the fundamental key in the united states to passage of it is labor on the one hand, working with the house leadership, house democratic leadership, and also separately, that the business community does more than talk about it. and i'm not just talking about the chamber of commerce. i'm talking about smaller mid-market sized businesses, going to the newly-elected democrats who got elected in republican districts, and talking to them about the attributes of free trade and what it means to our economy, what it means to employing people in their businesses. i think that is the ultimately, the secret sauce to getting passed. >> this does raise a really interesting question about these
new, more progressive democrats in the house, and whether this deal is in fact, progressive enough for them, whether they can be brought on to sort of team trade. what are your views on that, ambassador blanchard? >> well, my guess is those that consider themselves purely progressive, or progressively pure, will oppose any trade agreement, because it's the safe thing to do. but an awful lot of new member, and joe crowley mentioned this earlier, certainly from the midwest and west, are more moderate. and probably more prone to being pro-trade expansion. and certainly are pro-canada. so i think that's been lost. clearly, some of the new democrats replaced democrat, including the one that replaced joe, but also in massachusetts in the one that replaced john conyers in michigan, are more leftist and are probably going
to be more suspicious of trade. but i think gordon mentioned others, there will be an audience for the newer members. they're going to want to hear from michigan. and michigan is a sensitive state, because we're going to have the auto companies all for i think renewing this nafta. they are. and they are of course totally against tariffs. but then you have the unions that have always been wary. they really feel like they got the raw end on nafta. and remember, this, too, general motors announced a closing of four plants, and as one of the members of congress on the ways and means committee told me, it couldn't have come at a worst time for them to announce closing of plans including one in ashua, and three in the u.s., and so with the notion of some of what they will produce is made in mexico, so this is a problem, and i also know the democratics are concerned about the provision on biologics, the patent protection, they are already asking for some
modification of that. so we'll see. >> i mentioned gm before. you know, there's no, in terms of air traffic control, right after the president agreed to this, all three countries agreed to the draft agreement, gm comes along, and closes a plant in canada, and four plants in very crucial areas of the united states, that will have an impact on the ratification or not ratification of this agreement. somebody in the business community's got to get back to gm and ask them to reconsider this. because this is, this is not landing planes in an intelligence way on the business side of this debate for sure, in crucial areas. and i do believe the other side of this is, and i thought this was a real weakness on tpp, we had, for the first time ever, a trade agreement that had wording on human trafficking, we had wording on state-owned interferences, which of course was holding the pan for future
trade discussions with china, we had better labor standards, better environmental standards, and nobody went out and fought for it in the primaries that took place for the presidential election, nor did they fight for it in the presidential election. so if nobody is standing up and fighting for the improvements, it becomes very, very difficult to get something ratified. people have got to say, this is better, on labor, this is better on environment, and listen to the issue of enforcement in terms of the better provisions, but i think that that has got to be part of the debate. it waent can't be a one-sided debate which takes place in both our countries from time to time. >> just following up on this direction of democrats and the direction of progressive politics in general, one of our audience members was curious for your picks on who the democratic nominee for president will be, and whether he or she will be a free trader, which i think sort of gets at this question which
is perhaps more immediate which is the left in the united states moving towards this type of free trade, and what does that look like? >> canadians love amy klobuchar. look at the way she handled snow. i can come back to her declaration. that's my answer. >> i got to point out that this guy who keeps talking about how canadians handle snow came here from sarasota, florida. >> burn. >> they don't know how to handle snow, either. >> not from churchill. >> he didn't get that suntan from winnipeg, folks. >> no, this is a wind burn. >> now that we've got the facts on the table -- >> he's got a bigger place beside me, actually. >> at least it has been long enough since that damn hockey game in vancouver that you don't talk about that anymore, that, so i keep following these guys,
there's a united states senator that i'm holding a reception for at my home in atlanta tomorrow night, by the name of amy klobuchar, we're not planning on snow, but i am planning on her being the democratic nominee. >> and will she support usmca in her campaign? >> i don't want to speak for her, but i think she understands the benefits of free and open trade, and i know, since she's been a co-chair of the canada-u.s. inter-parliamentary group, and she can see canada from her porch, that she is a big fan of canada, so i mean her, i'll give doer a plug here, i don't know why i'm pandering to these two guys, when she was re-elected the first time, her first re-election, the celebration on her swearing in
day was held on the top floor of the canadian embassy. so, and it was a remarkably bipartisan event. john mccain came. and several other republicans came to celebrate amy klobuchar being re-elected. and they came to the canadian embassy. which evidence two very important thing, the ties with canada and her ability to work across the aisle. >> ambassador blafrpd, do you want to share your picks? >> if the election were held today, and joe biden were on the ballot, he would win. and he would be, i hate to use the word free trader but pro-trade expansion. what we really have in the united states is managed trade and that's what canada has, too. i believe that, you know, we got, what, 12 people running whether, and there will be others, i tend to prefer a govern fer there was one that was electable, but i would say this. i think the democratic nominee for president will be someone from the midwest, and they will
win, and i agree about with senator klobuchar who is a great friend of canada. i've gone to minnesota law school, so i like her as well. but i'm, i will keep my powder dry right now. but i think we will have to nominate someone from the midwest, i do, and try to dial down all of the rhetoric that the world has had to deal with here with our current occupant of the white house. >> we've got more of a think piece here. what happens if nafta, usmca, is not ratified? what does that look like for north america? >> i think canada's view would be we still have the canada and u.s. trade agreement. that would be our plan c. but that would be an obvious place to stand in the short term, to provide certainty to the supply chain. >> it looks like a food fight.
it's not an attractive outcome. because yes, technically, under the law, nafta, well, they migh wouldn't exist. then you revert to the canada/u.s. free trade agreement, which i think even predate s blanchard as ambassador, which means it was a little bit before the civil war. so, what the canada/u.s. -- what the canada/u.s. free trade agreement says about anything that's kusht, tcurrent, the int didn't exist. it would be a mess in and of itself. we cannot fail. this is not an option. all of us have to get to work in our respective capitols and make it happy. >> he's very grumpy right now.
duke lost their best player in the game last night. h he's not usually this rough on his fellow panelists. >> and shares of nike dropped, i might add, if anybody follows this. obviously, with don't -- i want to mention, though, i've been told by the canadian leadership, correct me if i'm wrong, they're not even going to present it -- the prime minister is not even going to present this to parliament unless the u.s. congress has enacted nafta. they're not going to waste their time. and i think if the president -- first of all, even my democratic friends believe, and most my friends happen to be democrats these days, or fallen away republicans, they believe this current version is better than the existing nafta. including for labor. they really do. so, so if this doesn't pass and the president says ais s i'm go cancel the existing nafta, snaps back to the canada/u.s. free trade agreement, says i'm going to cancel that, there will be
years of litigation. and i know the earlier panelists from ways and means said they weren't sure what the law is. i'm not sure the president can cancel anything. ambassador kelly kraft is here. welcome. i'm not sure that the president could kangs l the existing nafta without -- and there would be longtime litigation and uncertainty and as gordon said, a food fight. >> ambassador doer, how does team trudeau play this going forward? they've got an election coming up. they've got volatile political situation in the united states. how do you expect them in terms of messages to move this forward toward ratification? >> well, i think the, again, coming back to the tariffs, they will take a public position that the tariffs have to be removed before canada will have a proposal before parliament to ratify. and i think that that is a very solid position to take across the country, and there will be great support for that, to pass
it, to bring it to parliament even with a majority government before the u.s. congress and the senate deals with it i think would be a mistake, and with the added emotion of having tariffs based on canada being a national security threat, i think the prime minister will be cool, calm, to wait and make that a very public position, and the public position will be the same position as the private position to the president. >> one of the canadian strategies in trying to negotiate has been sort of a full-court press sending representatives from canada to sort of all branchs of u.s. government, state level, local level. the canadian government has touted that as very successful. i've heard some grumbling in the united states that they're sick of having canadians on their doorstep pleasing their case. do you think it was an effective strategy, and from the other two panelists, what's your read on the canadian strategy here? >> well, it was very successful
for us in getting the only waiver with the buy-american provisions. reaching out to congress with our friends in labor and business. it was very successful in getting canada to the -- we didn't agree to go to the tpp table originally, and it was very successful in us getting to the table and reaching an agreement at the table. so, i would argue that you got to -- you know, it's not a parliamentary system. it's a totally different system in the united states. governors are very important. both republican and democrat because they run their economies in their own states. they're very, very important. they also speak to their own delegations. republicans and democrats in their state and in washington. so the governors are extremely important. the congress is going to be extremely important in the ratification process. and i think you have to have that outreach. and if people don't like it, you still got to do it.
>> i never dislike having a canadian on my doorstep. >> that's nice. >> doer frequently shows up. >> that's right. >> the great thing about asking us questions is we have no impact on anything these days. the -- the person who does is sitting over there, but the -- i think gary's point about governors is extremely important. and i think you're going to have ambassador kraft's governor actually in person here, so you ought to talk to him about it. but governors not only talk to their congressional delegations, they can give air cover to their congressional delegations. they can make it okay in their home state and in those congressional districts to vote for the trade agreement. so i think governors are absolutely critical.
i'm also going to throw a wildcard in here, which i get to make up because i know nothing. i think that there's going to be a trade deal worked out with china between china and the united states, number one, which will make tariffs less current, generally. and here's my wildcard. i think in the context of that agreement, the extradition proceeding will be set aside and that will make canada and the united states, or in canadians' eyes a little bit of progress in the confusion, i guess, around the extradition, which will provide a more positive atmosphere. i know nothing. i just made that up. >> so we're talking here about the arrest in vancouver of
huawei technology executive on u.s. charges which has been complicating the relationship. >> regarding governors, actually, i was in congress years ago, i had a lot of contact with canadians on -- at that time on asset rain and great lakes water quality. >> i wasn't working with president lincoln at the time. >> i was governor of michigan the last century, folks. as governor, i dealt a lot with canada, particularly the premier of ontario, three different ones, and the prime minister. so, and on trade. what i like to say is, one of the most important projects, or as they say in new york country, projects, the gordie howe int international bridge. it's a joint u.s./canada project. we've broken ground on it.
ambassador kelly knight-kraft was there in detroit when we broke ground. prime minister trudeau was there in windsor when we broke ground. this, of course, secures the most important trade connection between canada and the u.s. which is huge. will also be the largest employer of building trades in the midwest and critical to our future. i know both gordon and gary were big supporters as was michael kergan. this thing has gone on about ten years. i, of course, have, an informal adviser to our current governor. so these relationships of governors and key members of congress with canada are critical. canada does a good job on that and they should continue it and i'm sure they will whatever anyone says, they will continue it. it's good. i'm telling you, in my neck of the woods, it's huge. and really important to our people. >> we also had to negotiate a provision away from a buy-american provision because
it crossed the river, it wasn't a driving board. it was a bridge. we got, again, the steelworkers, the administration, the obama administration to agree to a waiver to ensure that the tendering process coweuld take place on both sides of the bodder. >> my partner, ray lahood, transacted that and he's have proud of it. >> yep. >> we have just over two minutes left. i know you all like to have a final word. let's end with your predictions. i want to know when this is going through and how. and how. we'll close with that. >> i think it will go through in the next nine months or be dealt with, will be determined in the congress in the next nine months. i don't in think they want to go too far into the full primary season on the democratic side so i think it's got a window in late spring or fall of 2019.
>> i think the risk is delay in the u.s. because you've got an election coming up in canada, parliament rises some time in june and probably won't be back until after the election. whether the u.s. will act if you assume for a minute in canada, the parliament won't take -- won't vote until after the u.s. approves. i don't know if it can get done in the u.s. before parliament rises and that attenuates the whole process and gets it much more into the primary process for president in the united states, which is the big risk. so, if you're focused on tryinging to get this done, you need to get it done -- we need to get it done -- in the united states by spring. some time in mid spring. the good thing about a parliamentary system when you have a majority, you can have a vote tomorrow if you want to have it.
so -- it's a simpler process. the complicated place is here. so we need to get it done by the end of may. >> yeah, i think -- i agree with both of them. i think it will be late spring. i wish we had nancy pelosi here, speaker pelosi, because she would have a lot to say about it. and i also think the mexican government will need to move on the labor provisions before the democrats will consider voting on the new nafta. and i think they will do that, but we're going to hear from mexican ambassador later, so you'll get these answers. all i can say is in the meantime, to conclude with seven, six, five, shoot the basket, is relations between 20our two countries are far too important to let this thing fall apart. >> and that seems like the perfect note to close on. thank you so much. if you're looking for snow removal advice, i know three ambassadors.
and we are live at the u.s. institute of peace here in washington, d.c. standing by in a moment or two for the pakistani ambassador to the u.s., asad majeed khan, who will be the featured speaker this afternoon. his priorities for u.s./pakistani relations in the coming years. we expect this to start shortly. live coverage now on c-span3.