Sunday, March 6, 2011

Canadians still hopeful for Reciprocity

A day after the end of the 61st Congress here in the United States, Canadians were still hopeful that the trade agreement between the two countries will still pass, both in their legislature in Ottawa and in the coming special session of the new, 62nd Congress in Washington.  However, there is a split of opinion in Canada over the reciprocity measure, with farmer strongly in support, while some manufacturers are pushing just as strongly against.  Farmers have been the major force behind the free trade bill for decades as they seek access to the much larger US market as well as cheaper American farm machinery.  The head of the Canadian Council of Agriculture, James Bower, even argued that the Manufacturer's Association has been feeding local papers misinformation regarding this important bill and fomenting dissent to the bill in Parliament.  Conservatives in Parliament and the Manufacturers in the country, who would lose out due to an influx of cheaper American products, have even gone as far as suggesting the insane notion that reciprocity and close economic ties with us would result in the US eventually annexing Canada.  From Bower:
"Sitting in the gallery of Parliament daily watching the conduct and hearing the words of the members, the question is constantly forcing itself on my mind, What effect would a law allowing of their recall have on these members?  To me one thing is sure...a demand for recall would be very quickly would be made to those who, in defiance of their constituents' wishes, are answering to the beck and call of protected interests."
Premier Wilfrid Laurier is expected to speak in front of parliament tomorrow on this matter, and it will be interesting, as the New York Tribune has noted, to see how he addresses the protectionist opposition to reciprocity. 

The Canadian Reciprocity Bill is expected to be taken up again when Congress enters a special session on April 4.  Many Canadian politicians are in wait-and-see mode with respect to our Congress's actions on this treaty.  With the House entering Democrat hands, it is not known if incoming House Speaker, Champ Clarke, will endorse the measure, or replace it with something more radical.  From the Canadian perspective, there is a deadline for the measure, as it may need to be passed before the Canadian prime minister leaves for London in June for King George V's coronation in London.

Link: Reciprocity Hopes in Canada Run High [The New York Tribune]

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