Trudeau Battles ‘Populism’ With Free Trade In Veiled Challenge To Trump

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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After China put the brakes on free trade negotiations with Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that he was pursuing free trade across the globe to stop “populism or resurgent nationalism,” the Canadian Press reports.

“It’s a time where there is much political space given up in various countries for populism or resurgent nationalism. And Canada stands strongly as a country that is making a case for international trade that benefits everyone. We will continue to do that,” Trudeau told reporters before being ushered into a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

After taking with Trudeau, Xi did not move from the Chinese position that free trade talks are stalled for now, CBC News reports.

Trudeau came to China with the expectation that the communist country would welcome a free trade agreement with Canada. But China has apparently grown tired of Trudeau’s persistent demands that a free trade agreement included copious references to fighting climate change, ensuring gender equality and promoting labor rights.

Furthermore, the prime minister is facing increasing resistance from the Canadian business sector who note that Chinese workers are paid substantially less than their Canadians counterparts, while Chinese industry is both subsidized by the state and not subject to the same stringent environmental regulations as Canadian companies.

Trudeau has also been insisting upon inserting his social agenda into a renegotiated North America Free Trade Agreement, which increasingly seems to be an unlikely development. Just last week, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, suggested the Trump administration was only interested in “take, take, take” as he downplayed chances of a deal.

Nonetheless, Trudeau remained upbeat about NAFTA’s survival, just as he continues to suggest he will be able to pull a free trade deal wit China from the fire.

“We take very seriously the responsibility we have to improve NAFTA to benefit both Canada, the United States and Mexico,” Trudeau said.

“Canada is not in the business of trying to create a zero sum game or create winners or losers in trade deals.”

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