If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on when it comes to Donald Trump, it’s that he’s totally unpredictable. And he reminds us of it every single day. Yesterday, at a conference to support small businesses, Trump returned to one of his favourite topics as of late and riffed on how unfair Canada is to the U.S. when it comes to trade. Very few people understood what he was talking about.
The president began with some vague comments about maybe finding a NAFTA fix or maybe walking away from the whole deal in favour of bilateral agreements with Canada and Mexico separately. That got him started on a whole rant that made very little sense to both Canadians and Americans.
President Trump doubles down on his criticisms of NAFTA, Mexico and Canada https://t.co/qae45jGNUD
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 19, 2018
“By the way, Canada? They like to talk. They’re our great neighbour. They fought World War II with us. We appreciate it,” he said, “They fought World War I with us and we appreciate it. But we’re protecting each other.
“There was a story two days ago in a major newspaper talking about people living in Canada coming into the United States and smuggling things back into Canada because the tariffs are so massive,” Trump continued, “The tariffs to get common items into Canada are so high, they have to smuggle them in.”
Did he mean cross-border shopping? It’s unclear, because he then went on to describe in very specific detail how Canadians might smuggle those products across the border. Boy, are Canadians sneaky.
“They buy shoes and they wear them,” Trump said, “They scuff them up, they make them sound old or look old. Nah, we’re treated terribly.”
If that little mini rant left you completely confused, you’re not alone. Political journalists whose job it is to cover exactly this kind of thing were also completely baffled.
Canadians, please let me know if you’ve ever crossed the border to buy shoes and made them all dirty before going home so Canadian customs wouldn’t notice that you’re a smuggler
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) June 19, 2018
Trump is talking about Canadians crossing into the U.S. to smuggle sneakers back into Canada…? What the hell is he talking about?
— Robyn Urback (@RobynUrback) June 19, 2018
They’re not even US goods though, mostly. US (or Mexican) sneakers wouldn’t need to be smuggled in, they’re duty free (although not tax free past the limit). Cross-border shopping is a positive for American retailers. Doesn’t make sense.
— Jennifer Ditchburn (@jenditchburn) June 19, 2018
In other words: in this shoe example, Canadians are spending money at US businesses to buy Asian-made goods. Yay America. Then they’re – sometimes – hiding these products from Canadian customs to avoid Canadian tariffs on Asian goods. Why is this bad for America? Who knows.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) June 19, 2018
They also did some sleuthing into where this “major newspaper report” came from and which Canadians are smuggling scuffed American shoes into the country. The best theory was a New York Post op-ed in which the writer admitted to “smuggling” products American Amazon won’t ship to Canada like “refrigerator screws, a barbecue cover, and camera and bicycle parts.”
I think the “major newspaper report” about people smuggling things into Canada from the US Trump referred to in his speech is this New York Post op-ed where the author sneaks stuff back to her family in Canada that they can’t get on Amazon https://t.co/9Vi5Gfn9Bq
— Bob Bryan (@RobertBryan4) June 19, 2018
Trump finished his Canada tirade by again reiterating that the U.S. will no longer be taken advantage of.
“We have to change our ways. We can no longer be the stupid country, we want to be the smart country. So hopefully we’ll be able to work it out with Canada,” he said.
Trudeau has maintained that if the United States does not pull back its tariffs on Canadian goods by the July 1 deadline, he is prepared to initiate retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.