Conrad Black, former transnational media tycoon, conservative columnist and founder of the National Post, told the House of Commons Standing Commitee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday that Canadians need to warm up to President Donald Trump. Black, along with former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney, is another of the unlikely silent advisors who are telling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau how to react to President Donald Trump.
Bloomberg News reports that Black assured the Members of Parliament from Canada’s three main political parties that Trump is not a being to be feared.
“We’re not dealing with a monster here, we are dealing with a reasonable person who just wants to do a good job for his country. Well so do all national leaders, and in that sense, he’s not unusual,” Black told the committee.
Black was the first Canadian political commentator — and ultimately one of the few — to endorse Trump’s presidential candidacy. He told the committee that Trump is not out to get Canada when he says the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was the worst trade deal ever signed. He says Trump’s talk about “tweaking” NAFTA as far as Canada is concerned should be taken at face value.
Trump is mainly concerned about losing American jobs in a world of unfair trade, according to Black.
“In tearing up NAFTA and so forth, Donald Trump has never expressed any problem at all with Canada-U.S. free trade,” Black told the committee via video conference call from Toronto. “He isn’t a protectionist, he is actually in favor in trade. What he doesn’t like is trade that consists of a net sizable exportation of unemployment to the United States.”
Trump’s attack last month on the Canadian dairy industry, followed by a tariff on softwood lumber, convinced many Canadians that all of Trudeau’s backroom diplomatic efforts had been in vain.
Black said instead of dairy gazing, Canadians should be concerned about Trump’s promise to lower corporate taxes because that will have an impact on Canadian companies. “The implications of that to Canada are clearly serious in terms of where international investor money is apt to go to get into this North American market.”
The former chairman of Hollinger Inc. characterized Trump’s negotiating strategy in the private sector as taking an “outrageous position” and moving towards a deal from there.
Baron Black — he retains a seat in the British House of Lords –remains a controversial figure in Canada, loved by conservatives and loathed by liberals. He is the author of several history books on Canadian and U.S. politics, including a celebrated biography of Franklin Roosevelt.