Lois Ann Dort
Ex-PM Mulroney still a force
Chronicle Herald 0ct. 26, 2016
It’s been many years since Brian Mulroney ran in an election but if he did, judging by the adulation he received from the packed auditorium gathered at StFX Wednesday morning, he would win handily. Not only was he applauded for his commitment to StFX, he was sought out for commentary on all of the day’s biggest issues– particularly those involving international trade; which he has long championed to the benefit of Canadians.
This week the success of the Canada and European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is in doubt due to the displeasure with the agreement in the region of Wallonia, Belgium. When asked about the negotiations Mulroney stated, “I don’t know what the chances are but I think it should be signed…I always thought what was going on, as I told the Montreal Chamber of Commerce last week, was a hiccup that could be resolved by leadership and is in the process, I understand, of being resolved.”
When asked if he had any sympathy for the Belgians who were working against the deal due to concerns about protecting farm producers, Mulroney quipped, “My sympathy is reserved for Canada.”
NAFTA, one of the most regularly cited achievements of the Mulroney years in office, has been frequently attacked by the Republic Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. Mulroney said that despite the anti-trade talk currently en vogue in America, NAFTA would continue long after the current presidential race came to a close. “I don’t know what will happen to other people but NAFTA will still be there. This is a deal that has been tremendously beneficial to the United States, Mexico and Canada…I would bet my bottom dollar that it will remain unchanged.”
Mulroney pointed out that despite the rhetoric in the United States against NAFTA it may have had an advantageous effect on another American election talking point; immigration. “This year for the first time there are more Mexicans returning to Mexico than there are Mexicans immigrating to the United States. Now that surely is not only a great thing for Mexico but it also solves one of the contentious issues in the Mexican American portfolio.”
On another front, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Mulroney is less optimistic. “I have serious doubts as to whether TPP, although it is a great initiative, will succeed given the hostility of the American congress to it and to trade initiatives generally.”
The days when former Prime Ministers left the spotlight when they left the PMO are long gone. Mulroney, has solidified his status as a senior statesman whose opinions and contributions are still valued by the country. Mulroney may just be Canada’s Jimmy Carter– with consistently high approval ratings throughout his post-Prime Ministerial career.