Much ado about parties: Conservative and Liberal approaches to Canada's trade policy with the United States

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Much ado about parties: Conservative and Liberal approaches to Canada's trade policy with the United States Powered By Docstoc
					Paul Gecelovsky &
Christopher Kukucha

Much ado about
Conservative and Liberal approaches to Canada’s trade policy
with the United States

Conventional wisdom holds that governments matter—i.e., that a new
government, particularly one of a different political party, will make
substantial changes to the policies of the state it was elected to lead. The focus
of this article is whether party affiliation matters in determining Canada’s
priorities and policies in its trade relationship with the United States. It will
compare policy statements and performances of Liberal, Progressive
Conservative, and Conservative governments from the advent of the Trudeau
Liberal government in 1968 to the present and will argue that party affiliation
has had little impact on Canada’s US trade policy over this period. The
analysis will proceed in three parts. In the first part, the Canada-US trade
relationship will be discussed briefly. This will be followed by an overview of
the economic priorities of Canadian governments concerning the US from
1968 to the present, as gleaned from major policy statements such as white
papers and speeches. The final part of the article will set out some of the
reasons why party affiliation has had little substantive impact on Canada’s

Paul Gecelovsky is assistant professor and Christopher Kukucha is associate professor in
political science at the University of Lethbridge.

                                        | International Journal | Winter 2008-09 | 29 |
| Paul Gecelovsky & Christopher Kukucha |

trade policy with the US over the last 40 years, including the limited electoral
salience of trade issues with the Canadian public, the difficulty of
“packaging” positions concerning the increasing complexity of trade issues
in parties’ electoral platforms, the private sector character of trade, and the
increasing intrusiveness of trade agreements to which Canada is a signatory.

Canada has always been a trading nation. International trade, especially
bilateral trade with the US, is an increasingly important component of
Canada’s economic health and, therefore, a concern to all political parties.
That trade matters to Canada has long been understood: in 1942, Hugh
Keenleyside wrote that for Canada, “trade and other economic factors are
fundamental to ninety percent of all international relations.”1 Almost 40
years later, these sa
Description: In 1989, the [Brian Mulroney] government announced a new strategy that was to guide Canadian trade policy through the 1990s and into the next century. The "going global" strategy was to be based on the three "pillars" of North America, the Asia Pacific, and Europe.^ The Asia Pacific pillar was to be based on the "Pacific 2000" plan, which called for assistance to Canadian business to gain a presence in the Asian market while also attracting Asian investment and tourism to Canada. Funding was provided to increase Canadian knowledge of and familiarity with Asian cultures and business practices, as well as for language training. Japan was targeted as the key market in Asia. The objective was to increase overall Canada-Japan trade from $4.2 billion in 1985 to $40 billion by 2000. The European pillar was to take advantage of the then-single-market initiative of the European Community. In 1990, Canada negotiated a framework agreement with the European Community that called for regular communication between Ottawa and Brussels. Also during this time, Canada undertook a full review of its relations with Europe in an attempt to reinvig orate the relationship. The aim of the "going global" strategy was once again to increase Canada's foreign trade in regions other than North America - i.e., to reduce Canada's reliance on the American market. Thus, notwithstanding the negotiation of the FTA with the US, [Pierre Trudeau]'s counterweights had been replaced by Mulroney's "pillars."Security concerns dominated the policy statement in its discussion of "making a difference globally." As with earlier reviews, however, there was a section committed to increasing "prosperity" through trade and investment. Again, the list of recommendations was extensive and eclectic. Specifically, Canada was to maintain its relations with "mature" markets while pursuing "emerging markets" such as China and India. There was also the suggestion that Canada continue to "create a level playing field" for i
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