Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday December 5, 2017
Justin Trudeau’s great expectations clash with reality in China
Charles Dickens wrote a classic when he penned Great Expectations. Political leaders, on the other hand, make the classic mistake whenever they create expectations they don’t meet.
Justin Trudeau was no exception Monday as he left the Great Hall of the People in Beijing without an expected announcement that Canada and China would begin formal free trade negotiations.
Not that it was the prime minister’s fault.
His trade minister, François-Philippe Champagne, insisted during an interview Sunday with CBC Radio’s The House that issues remained to be worked out. And Canadian officials made the point to reporters in an off-the-record briefing before the trip.
It’s just that few people were buying the line.
Most business leaders, diplomats and political pundits thought this week’s trip to China — with its high-level meetings between Trudeau and the top two Chinese leaders, with its stated focus on trade, closer ties and shared prosperity — would produce an announcement that after four rounds of exploratory talks and months of efforts, Canada and China would finally make a commitment.
“Prime ministers usually don’t go on trips like that without something to announce,” said John Manley, the CEO of the Business Council of Canada, who was one of the few people cautioning Trudeau to proceed slowly after being the sole holdout two weeks earlier in signing an agreement in principle with Japan and the other members of Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The two sides have been engaged in exploratory talks for a year. China made it clear it was ready to take the next step, to try and forge its first agreement in North America, and its first with a member of the G7 group of industrialized nations. (Continued: CBC)