John Ibbitson flaunts knowledge of NAFTA, human condition

John Ibbitson flaunts knowledge of NAFTA, human condition

In this the most compelling political season in recent American history, the powers that be at The Globe and Mail have as their man in Washington (and further afield) the hard-working and, for the most part, balanced John Ibbitson. He is the quintessential “Globe man”: fiscally conservative and progressive on social issues. Another quality he shares with the Globe is rampaging self-importance. Wednesday, Ibbitson chastised The New York Times’ lead political columnist, David Brooks, for failing to grasp the central importance of Barack Obama’s campaign. Details, such as they are, after the jump.

Commentators and pundits, and more than a few Globe readers, are bewildered by the uncritical enthusiasm with which so many voters greet Mr. Obama’s candidacy… ‘His Hopeness tells rallies that we are the change we have been waiting for,’ wrote David Brooks in The New York Times, ‘but if we are the change we have been waiting for, then why have we been waiting since we’ve been here all along?’

But these critical critics know—and it drives them crazy—that the growing voter enthusiasm for Mr. Obama is based on reasoning that goes beyond facts. People just like the guy. They recognize the strength of the mind behind the oratory, his seriousness of purpose, his level-headedness. These are just impressions, of course, but voters judge, as they should, on impressions.

Well it’s one thing for those pundits to be all wrong-headed and confused, but “Globe readers”? Well, we can’t have that, now can we?

I’m sure Times editor Bill Keller called a meeting this very day encouraging Brooks et al. to stop blotting their worksheets and get with the program. After all, “people just like the guy.” And yesterday, with that admonition ringing in our ears, Ibbitson further encouraged “Globe readers” and other Canadians (the same thing, really) to think about renegotiating NAFTA in light of Obama’s populist, protectionist economic concerns.

Twenty years ago…faced with growing protectionism in the United States, Canada proposed a free-trade agreement to protect and enhance the flow of goods across the border.

The challenge today is the same; the answer is the same. Prime Minister Stephen Harper should propose a second round of Canada-U.S. trade negotiations.

The Democrats want new environmental regulations? Then let’s propose a bilateral carbon market based on a cap-and-trade agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Democrats want new rules to protect American workers? Then how about dismantling barriers to labour mobility between Canada and the United States? This would increase productivity, promote the harmonization of wages and working conditions and help people in each country to get to know the other country better.

Sure, let’s unilaterally dismantle NAFTA before the election. I mean, it’s not like the Republicans, were they to somehow eke out a victory, would take our willingness to negotiate for abject surrender. I mean fair’s fair. Even “Globe readers” know that.

• Obama would put a new face on America [Globe and Mail] • Time to revitalize U.S.-Canada relations [Globe and Mail]