Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave Trump a much-needed lesson on how trade between our nations is supposed to function.
Trump's chief economic adviser spent Sunday bungling the administration's trade message by contradicting his own recent statements on the topic. Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to deliver a much-needed dose of reality.
On Sunday morning's "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd asked Trudeau about the progress of NAFTA negotiations.
Trudeau said the talks had been "promising," until the United States demanded "a sunset clause in NAFTA, which makes no sense. You don't sign a trade deal that automatically expires every five years."
"That's a non-starter for you?" Todd asked. "You won't be at the table if that's on the table?"
"No," Trudeau answered flatly. "You can think about investment. What company is going to want to invest in Canada if, five years later, there might not be a trade deal with the United States?"
He added that it's "part of the whole point of the United States to say, 'Well no, we don't want anyone investing in our NAFTA partners. We want people investing in us.'"
But, as he noted, "that's not the way trade works."
At a press conference on Thursday, Trudeau told reporters that Mike Pence called him to demand the sunset clause "as a precondition" to talks on the trade deal. He also said that "no Canadian prime minister" would ever agree to such a condition.
Trudeau's remarks contradict Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who falsely claimed Sunday that the NAFTA negotiations "haven't broken down."
But it was Kudlow himself who, not 12 weeks ago, mocked Trump's justification for a trade war as "baloney." He went so far, just three months ago, as to call the endangerment of NAFTA a potential "calamity for our economy."
Kudlow apparently no longer has the courage to push back against Trump's manifest ignorance on trade. All he says now is, "I hope it works out."
And unfortunately for Americans, it's unlikely Trump will be willing to heed the lesson from our neighbor to the north.