Saturday, 21 January 2017

Fighting Fire with Fire

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The 45th American President has threatened Canada. While Canadians predominantly include Americans among their friends, they must now fight fire with fire. To do that we need your engagement, and that of every other Canadian.
Therefore, the purpose of this blog post is to request your committed engagement to reduce American products and services to your personal buying options of last resort, if the American threat should come to pass. It may require a change of your comfortable mind-set.
What is the issue? Canada can get seriously hurt if the new president follows through on his threat to reopen the Auto Pact between the USA and Canada and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), both of which have immensely benefitted Canada and the USA, and if he introduces a new border tax as discussed by Ted Carmichael in Ripping up NAFTA should actually worry Canadians less than this horrific Republican border tax (National Post, January 18, 2017). Sitting back “grinning and bearing it”, as Mr. Carmichael has suggested, as a last resort, is no option.  
Obviously, no effort should be spared to arrive at a negotiated understanding of the extent to which the Auto Pact and NAFTA have benefitted the North American trading partners (Canada, Mexico, USA) over several decades and to spell out the potentially harmful effects which their modification could have on Canadians, Mexicans and Americans. Nevertheless, under no circumstances should Canada’s negotiating politicians crawl to Washington, begging for favours, cap in hand.
Years ago many Canadians avoided the “rusty Ford” on the grounds of perceived low quality and built-in obsolescence. Now, if the Auto Pact should be cannibalized, Canadian consumers should avoid, as a matter of principle, all GM, Chrysler and Ford products that are not built in Canada. There are enough European and Asian automobile manufacturers to compete with US manufacturers so that US-built vehicles can be excluded without any appreciable adverse effects on Canadian motorists. All it takes is the collective consumer will and determination to avoid them!

Canadian consumers can also avoid other US products. Canadians do not have to buy California wines. If those wines are not bought, they will disappear from our shelves! As for oranges, Canadians can easily avoid imports from Florida, since excellent citrus fruit from Morocco and Spain is already on our shelves. The same is true for many other agricultural and other consumer products and services.

To the extent possible, Canadian travellers should treat themselves to North America’s recognized best airline – Air Canada - as well as other Canadian carriers, as their airlines of choice.

Are Florida, Arizona and California the only escape options for Canada’s “snow birds”? Why not try to go just a little further south, say to Cuba, other Caribbean countries, Mexico or Central America, or, for that matter, to other long-term destinations such as the sun-drenched coast of Portugal’s Algarve, where excellent long-term rates are available?

Action by Canadian consumers would complement that of US consumers, including the Grab your Wallet Campaign (see their background).

Since about three quarters of Canada’s trade is currently with the USA, it would surely be a long-term benefit to Canada, if we could use the potential disruption of the Auto Pact and NAFTA, or the imposition of a border tax, to diversify our trading relationships, say by increasing our trade with Europe, Asia, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean.

I have two requests for you:
1.      I would like to hear from you how effectively you can change your buying habits by consciously checking out products and services not only on the basis of quality and price, but also in terms of country of origin, and then, if you have a reasonable choice, avoid products and services originating in the USA.
2.      If you agree with this approach, please share this blog post on your social media with family and friends, asking them to avoid US products and services whenever possible, and to pass on this message through their social network.

Let us together stand up for Canada!

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