tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN February 26, 2019 7:04pm-8:01pm EST
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and this is 50 minutes. >> this is not the set of radio for the next set of panelists and they've lived u.s. canadian relations and they've been ambassadors for the u.s. or canada and several have held elective office and we expect they all have stories to tell as well as perspectives to share. moderating this discussion is emily rajalla of the washington post. she writes with a focus on canada and wrote for the post and times in asia and shared an
overseas press post for the internet and china. joining here on the stage is jim blanchard, u.s. ambassador to canada from 1993-96. he played an important part in the passage of nafta1. he's a former member of congress and former governor of michigan and he's currently with the la piper. gary duer was the canadian ambassador to the u.s. and was premier of manitoba and a senior business adviser and gordon griffin was u.s. ambassador to canada from 1997- 2001 and he's a global vice chair of denton and a member of denton's global board and u.s. board. we hoped to have another with us who was a former canadian ambassador to the u.s. but alas, the weather did him in and even the sled dogs could not get him to us. here 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 whatever we want to call it. i'll get their views on that later. key point. i think today we'll look at a few key themes and the if one is how the heck did we get here and how the heck did we get from this to hate tweets and what does this sort of current state of the bilateral relationship mean for the prospect of this agreement? i hope to draw on each of their expertise. where things were and where things are going. we're going to talk briefly about the prospects for this thing. it'll be the holdup and i think we'll start with ambassador blanchard and you were
appointed ambassador in 1993 and you played a role in its eventual imply mentation. what lessons can we learn from that long trajectory? >> thank you, emily. i want to mention michael kergen, former canadian ambassador to the u.s. is hire to keep us honest and in a later part of the program and reminded me of something that happened recently, which is the passing of former canadian bam basket -- 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 to the united states. having said that, i was back, both gordon and i working on the campaign for bill clinton in 1992 when bill clinton came to michigan and said he was
going to support nafta, which made him frankly look like an incredibly courageous politician and would like side environment on lar boar, these were negotiated by president hw bush and so there was this period of time after president clinton was elected where there was a lot of negotiating and handling on both the canadian and mexican side to add side panels and environment labor and also trade remedies. issues that are pretty much the same as now and i might also add if you switch to 17 votes in the house of representatives, nafta would not have passed the house of representatives. my gut is it's going to pass this time but there'll 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 the congress. when it's taken up where adjustments can be made. i see the democrats are concerned about the patent protection of buy logics and i know -- biologics and they'll 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 and nancy pelosi who really, really knows how to get things done oronos how to slow things down till they're done right . >> that's for sure. >> dr. griffin, you were there also in the 90s and i wonder if you can tell awes bit about where the relationship stood at that point, this attention between our desire for trade,
desire to connect these economies and the pushback from the left and from others on jobs and other issues. >> thank you. it's a delight to be here. somehow my luck followed jim blanchard. for those of us who have had the honor to serve as united states ambassador to canada, blanchard is the model, he is 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's actually true. >> it's true. he's not running for office in michigan. >> no, no. >> 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 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 as the older brother he never had. when you think about it, they both came from small rural communities and they both were consummate politicians that weren't given a lot of bets that they would ultimately lead their respective countries because of the fact they came from is roles and the two
obviously rose and were partners and rose in north america and always been an awfully important part of the united states and canada frankly are close, should be close and that the chemistry works is not just because we are next door to each other and 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 and that was certainly true during the clinton 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 and the current mayor of chicago and the guy who may be the next mayor of chicago, rom emmanuel and bill daley 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 and the business community was responsible for hanging onto the republicans. when you think about t it's reversed now. ed in for this new agreement to pass, the white house has to hang onto 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 will last through enough democrats to get the darn thing passed. i like jim believe it will pass. i also think there'll be deals made that don't include renegotiating the agreement at the time and for and a nafta and the liberal party was not part of the problem after the election with some side letters so side letters seem to be the magic thoughts here to getting these deals approved. it'll be arguous 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 democrats that are
coming back . >> you make an interesting point not just about the relationship between canada and the united states but the relationship in terms of how they work together abroad and ambassador, before you share your incites on washington's lackluster, which i know the audience is dying to hear. talk about your time as ambassador and what was the cooperation then like on other trade related issues and did you see the change that was about to hit the world? >> i have to mention snow because if i did come down to washington, it was closed down for five days with one snowstorm and i was reminded of that yesterday when planes were being canceled left, right, and center. the washington post, your newspaper asked me the question, what do canadians do with snow? a novel question. i said we shovel it, we lift
it, we put it in the river, we run it through turbines, and sell it back to the united states at 7-cents a kilowatt hour. this is true. the biggest issue we were dealing with on trifoliated trade in the horizon ttp but in the right in front of us was a by 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 way for any
country that was affected by the recovery act was to get labor. labor organizations in the united states was to get members in canada and many for the steel workers having a third of members in canada. machinists and the autoworkers have two different organizations on either side of the border and they work together on horrible decisions in my view on trade like the closure of the gm plants. moving to the second question on ttp, we, one thing i found out as ambassador it really became clear to me and that stake holders had a lot more say in united states than customers in either canada or united states. this is something we should pay attention to. i would like the media to cover customers as much as stake
holder and that applies to both countries. people that drink milk in can darks 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 stake holders in the u.s.. it's one of the weaknesses of the trade discussions going on. on ttp, we work with the united states, we work with the white house. we work -- but we also work in a multilateral way on intellectual properties and countries like new zealand and australia. we were dealing with the big dog, ie president of the administration and tried to work with other countries who had a like minded view on how they're better agreements and drug patent laws and very successful dealing with the united states to get a more
consumer friendly provision in that agreement. i would therefore say 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 and i'm not convinced it won't be an amendment to the proposal at the end of the process in the house. in the senate, it'll pass by the senate and not in the house. >> audience, we'll take your snow removal questions towards the end. for you, follow up on something ambassador griffith said. this is an audience question. can the former ambassador 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 and through. >> i happen to think that the current deal, ineptitude or whatever, could have been finalized about a year ago but for the theatrics and made the remarks and the top is clearly important. when the first nafta was done, the president of -- prime minister was new and the president had been there about a year and so they were just getting acquainted but the working relationship quickly game very, very good and very, very positive. the liberal platform called for re-reny renegotiating nafta and he wanted to look for a way to
get out from under that 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 is it depends on the time of day and the issue. we have a severely abnormal behaving president, and i feel sorry that canada has to deal with t even adjust to it but the whole world has the same issue and the reality is that most members in congress, probably all have a very positive feeling toward canada. and know that canada is our partner in almost everything we do and gordon said we work all around the world together. 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 various trade representative 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 the provisions on labor regarding mexico are really going to be implemented by the mexican congress and enforceable and then they'll have a hard time saying this isn't the better agreement than the original nafta. how many voting will that bring? >> i want to observe that i don't know how good the relationship is. 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 incite into that because sometimes what's 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 jinglistic because i was the u.s. ambassador to canada, there are times where the foreign minister of canada says things about the united states that are not warm and endearing so it's not as if. the commentary entirely one dimensional so a deal was made; right, that 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 three countries now is the issue. the issue is domestic politics in each of the three countries. how we're getting along with
canada and even in our former years try and work on that but the deal right now is in each of the domestic political caldrons, not in the dynamic among the three leaders. >> just on that point, first of all, i agree with the two speakers before me. the relationship is positive between our ambassador who will be on a panel later today and ambassador craft from the united states and there's more constructive relationship between ambassador lighthouser and the canadian group and team than there was at the beginning of the negotiation through the negotiating 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 part son politics and trade about being labeled a national security risk and that is the rational to impose tariffs of steal 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 ii, second world war and korean war and afghanistan and we obviously are working together against isis so it really dulles 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 the tariffs claiming a trade dispute is a national security especially and can that's unacceptable in my view. >> talk about the steel and
lym. it's at the heart of the canadians. is there a way out of this situation and where do you expect them to put the ambassador? >> nobody believes that steel and aluminum are from canada or mexico are a threat to our national security. nex believes that. so it's like a joke. angela merkle talked about that over in munich. how do you get the president, that's really the president's decision, how do you get him off the limb on that? my sense is that as we consummate the new nafta for the world, it's one of those
myths, there's a lot of myths and the president went out and said all over the country that nafta was the worst trade agreement ever made and when he signed the new nafta, a tweaking of the modernization, it's the single most important agreement ever signed and we've been treated very badly by the canadians and mexicans and treated badly by the south koreans and 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 are governors or diplomats do, but this false narrative is very dangerous to our relations with the rest of the world and i think gary duer is mild about the concern with the tariffs. they add a million dollars of cost at ford motor. ford motor was buying steel from u.s. companies.
>> we have to find other things for him to talk about but it would certainly -- i think our tradeoff this year has been very, very good. they should let them manage this and their friends in congress. don't ignore the unions. they're going to need some help with regard to wage rates. >> on the topic of canadian
domestic political scene, another question for the audience, will canada ratify before or after u.s. congress? how do you think the steel lym issue will play domestically and factor into the canadian strategy here? >> well, first of all i think the proposed amendments, i think it'll be -- i don't know if they'll accept letters this time around in the congress. if the agreement is amendmented in the congress and we're back to the senate and then of course for the president. the amendments that i would anticipate will not be a difficulty for canada, stronger enforcement of labor in the environment will not be in my view a deal breaker for canada.
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 stake holders to have an agreement signed that we have to implement and not have the tariffs lifted beforehand. >> it seeps clear to me that a lot of people want these tariffs lifted. do you see signs this is likely to happen or wishful thinking? >> i don't think it's wishful thinking but sometimes things so obviously in error ultimately fall of their own weight and on trade matters the best thing this administration could do is send peter navarro to peru or something. >> not far enough way a. put he
block and revoke his passports we can't get back in. i mean, his view of trade is largely what's driven the bizarre outcomes we are seeing on tariff issues. i agree with jim that ambassador lighthizer, he is a pro. he's been doing trade policy work for 40 years. he worked with bob dole in the senate. this is not a guy who just out -- just fell out of bed and developed a theory about trade, which i'm not sure does apply to mr. navarro who's also an intemperate, rude person, right? i do know what his redeeming qualities are. i'm sure he has one. i think that would be helpful. i'm sure he has one and so i think that would be help. and i think right now the riddle is how to withdraw the tariffs and how do you explain
the withdraw of the tariffs. i think that we'll 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 an ex koa or can 25. i'd not -- >> tariffs accomplished their goals in some ways and taking generally tougher stances on trade and tougher stances on china that it's been an effective tool and so why take them off. >> the agreement for nafta part two or whatever term they're using today, the agreement was always going to be chapter 19
and mexico on auto and none dealt with aluminum and steel and those were the obvious areas where there would be a compromise in the countries. >> got a question from the audience for you. will the conservative canadian premier support the passage of the mta. >> every provence signed off on the -- province signed off on ttp, labor and environment signed off with the national government and did negotiated on their behalf. everything was signed off by a number of different people from a number of different political parties. many of the provisions in the new graft agreement and trans-
pacific side effects and the only area -- the area that would be difficult. the drug patent legislation and imposed in the congress. i'm not sure. that would be one of the areas and debate in canada and the premier with the final draft agreement. >> the political scene and when this is going to get through. a few of you have mentioned and
what are the key issues and what do you predict in terms of putting it through. >> jim's done a good job of outlining the out line of high profile issue. around particular labor rights and environmental standards, the pharmaceutical issue obviously is a big one. the thing, and i don't know the answer to this cause i haven't personally studied it but i'm a little concerned that if the agreement getting undertrade agreement and no amendments permitted as i know the law and 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. somebody knows the answer to that. i'm sure bob knows the answer. the idea of amending it and the procedure status in the congress and again, i think the fundamental key in the united states with the passage of it is labor on the one hand, working with the house leadership, house democratic leadership and also separately that the business community and smaller mid market sized businesses going to the newly
elected democrats wearing republican districts. and talking to them about free trade and imploring people in our businesses. this is the secret sauce . >> these are the new more progressive democrats in the house and whether this deal can be brought onto team trade. what are your views on that? >> well, my guess is those that consider themselves progressively pure. an awful lot of new members and joe crowleyly mentioned this earlier from the west and
midwest of being pro trade expansion and pro canada so i think that's been lost clearly the democrats including ones that replaced joe and also in massachusetts and the one that replaced john conners in michigan are more left and are probably going to be more suspicion of trade. there'll be an audience here for the newer members. they'll want to hear from business and we'll have the autocompanies with renewing this nafta. they are. then you'll have the unions that have been wary and got the raw end on nafta. general motors announced the closing of four plants and
couldn't have come at a worse time. a notion of some of what they'll produce will be made in medical examiner doe. this is a problem and i know the democrats are concerned about the provision in buy logics, patent protection, they're already asking for some modification of that. we'll see. >> there's no, you know, 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 and they'll have an impact on the ratification or not ratification of the agreement. somebody in the business community has got to get back to gm and ask them to reconsider this because that thru is not landing planes in an intelligent way on the business side of this debate
for sure in crucial areas. i do believe the other side of this is -- and i thought this was a real weakness on ttp, we had for the first time ever a trade agreement that had word on traffic agreement and state owned enterprises and discussions with china and better environmental standards and nobody went out and thought for the primaries and fight for it in the way and comes with people getting to say better enforcement and that's got to be part of the debate and can't be a one sided debate. in both our countries from time
to time. >> the democrats and progressive politics in general. one ouch our audience members >> is the left in the united states moving towards this type of free trade and what does that look like? >> canadians love that. the way she handled snow in her declaration. that's my political answer. >> i got to point out this guy pointing out snow and came here from the north. >>
>> bigger place beside me. >> in vancouver, you don't talk about that anymore. >> i keep following these guys. the united states senator that i'm holding a reception for planning on snow and i'm not planning on her being the democratic nominee. >> 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 prochair of the canada group, she can see canada from her porch that she is a big fan
of canada and when she was reelected the first time, her first reelection with the celebration on her swearing in day and remarkably bipartisan event john mccain came and several other republicans came. they were reelected and came to the canadian embassy and two very important things, the ties with canada and her ability to work. >> do you want to share your pick? >> if the election was held today, they'd have the word free trader but pro trade expansion. what we really have in the
united states is manage trade and that's what canada has. i thit democratic nominee for president will be someone from the midwest. it great friend of canada and ended up going to minnesota law school and trying to dial down all the rhetoric the world has had to deal with. >> i think pete's here. what happens if nafta, usnca is not ratified?
what does that look like for north america? >> i think canada's view would be we still have the canada, u.s. trade agreement. that would be our plan c but that would be an obvious place to spend in the short term to provide certainty to the supply. it's an attractive one and technically into the law, nafta and can avert to the canada, u.s. free trade agreement and it's a little bit before the civil war and what's the canada -- what the canada u.s. free
trade agreement and the internet and a mess inside of itself. we cannot fail. this is not an option. so all of us have to get to work in our respective capitals and make it happen. >> gordon is very grumpy and duke lost their best player in the game last night. he's not usually this rough on his fellow path. >> shares of nike dropped i might add if anybody follows. obvious leiah we don't have any. 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 won't present to parliament unless the u.s. congressman enacts and waste their time and i think if the president, first of all, even my democratic friends believe in most of my friends happen to be democrats these
days. and they believe this current version is better than the existing nafta. including for labor. they really do. if this doesn't pass and the president says i'm going to cancel the existing nafta and t president says i'm going to cancel the existing nafta, that snaps back to the canada, free trade agreement and then he says i will cancel that. there will be years of litigation. i know there are panelists from the ways and means i'm not even sure what the law is. i'm not sure the president can counsel anything. i'm not sure the president could cancel the existing nafta. to be a long time litigation and as gordon set a food fight. >> ambassador, how does team trudeau play this going forward, they have election coming up, they have a volatile political situation with the
united states, how do you expect them in terms of messaging to move this forward? >> again coming back to the terrace, they will take a public position. have to be removed before canada will have a proposal before parliament to ratify. i think that is a very solid position to take across the country. there will be great support for that. to bring it to parliament even with the majority government before the u.s. congress and the senate and deals with the, i think would be a mistake and with the added emotion of having terrace 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. the public position will be the same position as the private position to the president. >> one of the canadian strategies and trying to negotiate has been a full-court press sending representatives
from canada to all u.s. representatives state and local level. canadian government has been very successful. i have heard some people sick with the government the having canadians on the doorstep and claiming their case. >> it was very successful for us and 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, we didn't agree to go to the table originally and it was very successful getting to the table and reaching an agreement at the table. so i would argue that is 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 are very important, they also speak to their own delegation. republicans and democrats in the state and in washington, so the governors are extremely important, congress is going to be extremely important in the process. i think you have to have that if the people don't like it you still have to do it. >> i never dislike having a canadian on my doorstep. >> that's nice. he frequently shows up the great thing about asking us questions is that we have no impact on anything these days. the person who does a sitting over there. i think gary's point about governors is extremely important. i think you're going to have an ambassador, governor in person
hears you to talk to him about a . but governors not only talk to their congressional delegations they can give air coverage to their congressional delegations. they can make it okay in the home state and in those congressional districts to vote for the trade agreement. so i think governors are absolutely critical. i am also going to throw a wild card in here . which i get to make up because i know nothing. i think that there is going to be a trade deal worked out with china between china and the united states, number one, which will make terrace less current generally. and here is my wildcard i think in the context of that agreement, the extradition proceedings will be set aside
and that will make canada and united states in the 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 are talking here about the arrest in vancouver of the technology executive on u.s. charges which has been complicating the relationship. >> regarding governors, actually i was in congress years ago i have a lot of contact with canadians . a fast time on acid rain and great lakes water quality. >> -- >> i was governor of michigan the last century folks but not the 18th. but anyway. and then as governor i dealt with canada.
what i would like to say, one of the most important projects, or as they say in your country, projects is international bridge. that is the largest infrastructure project in north america. it is a joint, u.s., canada project . we have broken ground on it. ambassador kelly knight craft was there in detroit. prime minister trudeau was there and in windsor when we broke ground. this is a most important trade connection between canada and the u.s. which is huge . it will also be the largest employer of building trades in the midwest. and critical to the future. i know they will be big supporters, this is gone on about 10 years. i have been an informal advisor to our current governors. these relationships governors and key relationship are
critical. whatever anyone says they will continue it it is good. my neck of the woods it is huge. and really important to our people. >> we have also had to negotiate a provision away from by america provision because across the river wasn't a diving board it was a bridge and we thought again the steelworkers administration obama administration to agree so tendering process could go on about both sides of the board. >> my partner transacted that he's very proud of it. i know you like to have a final word let's end with your predictions. i want to know when this is going through and how. we will close it that way.
>> i think it will go through the next nine months or it will be dealt with, determined in congress in the next nine months. i don't think they want to go too far into the full primary season on the democratic side. so i think it has a window late spring or fall 2019. >> i think the risk is delay in the u.s. because you have an election coming up in canada, parliament rises sometime in june and probably won't be back until after the election. whether the u.s. will act come if you assume for a minute, canada won't vote until after the u.s. approves. i don't know that it can get done in the u.s. before parliament rises . that attenuates the whole process and get this much more into primary process for president of the united states which is a
big risk. so if you're focused on getting this done you we need to get it done in the united states by spring. mid spring. the good thing about it, when you have a majority, you can have a vote tomorrow if you want to have a. it is a simpler process. the complicated places here . we need to get it done by the end of may . >> i agree with both of them. i think it will be late spring. i wish we had nancy, speaker pelosi . she would have a lot to say about it. i also think the next thing 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 are going to hear from a mexican ambassador later . so you get these answers. all i can say in the meantime, shoot the basket, relations between the two countries are far too important to let this thing fall apart. >> it seems like the perfect note to close on. thank you so much and if you're looking for snow removal advice, i know three ambassadors. >> announcer: tonight on c- span3 talking about the national debt and discussion about trade with canada and mexico from the national governors association. >> announcer: federal reserve chair jerome powell called the economy healthy. he also warned of slower economic growth in the coming year. this is the first of two capitol hill appearances. he testifies