Did Canada’s Prime Minister Say Canadians Don’t Need American Farmers Because ‘We Have Grocery Stores’?

Hyperpartisan social media pages and bots used yet another fake quote in order to attempt to drum up criticism against Canada’s leader.

Art Babych / Shutterstock.com

CLAIM

Justin Trudeau said that Canada didn’t need produce from American farmers because they have their own grocery stores.

RATING

ORIGIN

As a trade war between the United States and Canada continued to escalate in June 2018, hyperpartisan social media pages started sharing a meme with the claim that it uses an actual quote spoken by Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau:

“We don’t need US farmers anymore, we have grocery stores.”

This quote was completely invented — apparently from whole cloth — in order to paint Canada’s leader as ignorant and give bots and  trolls fodder with which to criticize the international community in defense of President Donald Trump’s escalating trade war.

This quote seemingly originated in a thread on QAnon.news, a web site dedicated to a bizarre right-wing conspiracy theory dealing in everything from “PizzaGate” to the “Illuminati” to the “Deep State,” and which bears a suspicious resemblance to the hall-of-mirrors style of Kremlin disinformation apparently aimed at weakening the relationships between the United States and its allies. Vice provides a brief summary of the QAnon conspiracy theory:

Who or what is QAnon? Just asking that question sucks you into a world that’s like Pizzagate on bath salts, a galaxy-brained, 4chan-bred conspiracy theory that has apparently convinced an alarming number of adults that all kinds of preposterous things are true.

[…]

Wielding the plausible-enough-sounding details and sprawling shadow government plot of a lesser Dan Brown novel, Q began slowly painting a picture of a reality far different from the one we live in. The resulting QAnon conspiracy theory states that Trump is not under investigation by Robert Mueller. Instead, Trump is merely playing the part of hapless conspiratorial criminal while covertly helping the special counsel pursue their true quarry: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, and all the other liberal boogeymen. (It gets a LOT crazier than that, but that’s the core plot.)

The phrase attached to Justin Trudeau was originally posted as a joke by someone completely unrelated to the prime minister. That attribution came later, when another user suggested that the phrase was “meme material”:

Conspiracy-minded forums of this ilk constantly push users to spread memes containing disinformation on the internet in order to “wake up the normies.” This thread was no different. One post read in part:

Meme and Meme and Meme some MOAR! Your memes are what’s waking up the normies.
Hit them hard, from all angles, with every meme you have, RT others tweets. KEEP GOING!
Be your own tweet storm army.

Sure enough, within a few days of this thread images containing a picture of Justin Trudeau and the fictional quote appeared; true to form, the usual suspects began pushing the fake quote as real:

Regardless of what one might think of Canadian trade policies, it is safe to assume that Canada’s political leader understands that grocery stores get their products from outside sources.

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Trump Tries to Destroy the West

 

David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

 

 

The alliance between the United States and Western Europe has accomplished great things. It won two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Then it expanded to include its former enemies and went on to win the Cold War, help spread democracy and build the highest living standards the world has ever known.

President Trump is trying to destroy that alliance.

Is that how he thinks about it? Who knows. It’s impossible to get inside his head and divine his strategic goals, if he even has long-term goals. But put it this way: If a president of the United States were to sketch out a secret, detailed plan to break up the Atlantic alliance, that plan would bear a striking resemblance to Trump’s behavior.

It would involve outward hostility to the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. Specifically, it would involve picking fights over artificial issues — not to win big concessions for the United States, but to create conflict for the sake of it.

A secret plan to break up the West would also have the United States looking for new allies to replace the discarded ones. The most obvious would be Russia, the biggest rival within Europe to Germany, France and Britain. And just as Russia does, a United States intent on wrecking the Atlantic alliance would meddle in the domestic politics of other countries to install new governments that also rejected the old alliance.

He chose not to attend the full G-7 meeting, in Quebec, this past weekend. While he was there, he picked fights. By now, you’ve probably seen the photograph released by the German government — of Trump sitting down, with eyebrows raised and crossed arms, while Germany’s Angela Merkel and other leaders stand around him, imploring. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, wears a look of defeat.

No wonder. The meeting’s central disagreements were over tariffs that Trump has imposed for false reasons. He claims that he’s merely responding to other countries. But the average current tariff of the United States, Britain, Germany and France is identical, according to the World Bank: 1.6 percent. Japan’s is 1.4 percent, and Canada’s is 0.8 percent. Yes, every country has a few objectionable tariffs, but they’re small — and the United States is not a victim here.

So Trump isn’t telling the truth about trade, much as he has lied about Barack Obama’s birthplace, his own position on the Iraq War, his inauguration crowd, voter fraud, the murder rate, Mexican immigrants, the Russia investigation, the Stormy Daniels hush money and several hundred other subjects. The tariffs aren’t a case of his identifying a real problem but describing it poorly. He is threatening the Atlantic alliance over a lie

If you need more evidence, look at his tweets after leaving the summit. Close readers of Trump’s Twitter feed (and I don’t envy that title) have learned that he often accuses others of committing his own sins. On Saturday, he called Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, “very dishonest.”

While Trudeau and other historical allies get disdain, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un and various aspiring authoritarians are bathed in praise. Trump and his aides have promoted far-right politicians in Germany and elsewhere. In Quebec, he made excuses for Russia’s annexation of Crimea and argued that Russia should be readmitted to the G-7. Jay Nordlinger, the conservative writer, asked, “Why is he talking like an RT host?” — RT being Russia Today, a government-funded television network.

I don’t know the answer. But it’s past time to take seriously the only explanation for all of Trump’s behavior: He wants to destroy the Western alliance.

Maybe it’s ideological, and he prefers Putin-style authoritarianism to democracy. Or maybe he has no grand strategy and Putin really does have some compromising information. Or maybe Trump just likes being against what every other modern American president was for.

Whatever the reason, his behavior requires a response that’s as serious as the threat. As the political scientist Brendan Nyhan pointed out, this past weekend felt like a turning point: “The Western alliance and the global trading system are coming under the same intense strain that Trump has created for our domestic institutions.”

For America’s longtime allies, the response means shedding the hopeful optimism that characterized the early approach taken by Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron, France’s president. Merkel is the right role model. She has been tougher, without needlessly escalating matters, because she has understood the threat all along.

For Trump’s fellow Republicans, it means putting country over party. A few Republicans, like John McCain, offered appropriately alarmed words in the last two days. Now members of Congress need to do more than send anguished tweets. They should offer legislation that would restrain Trump and hold hearings meant to uncover his motives.

For American voters, it means understanding the real stakes of this year’s midterm elections. They are not merely a referendum on a tax cut, a health care plan or a president’s unorthodox style. They are a referendum on American ideals that are older than any of us.

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Canada Reportedly Wants the U.S. to Scrap Its Right-to-Work Laws as Part of a New NAFTA Deal

By Jordan Weissmann
Sep. 05, 2017, 3:08 PM

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Paul J. Richards/Getty Images
Canadians are apparently sick of competing with nonunionized foreign workers South of the border. According to the Globe & Mail, the country’s negotiating team is asking the United States to scrap its anti-union right-to-work laws as part of an updated North American Free Trade Agreement, presumably in order to prevent poorly paid Americans from undercutting organized Canadian labor on wages. Obviously, this is not what the Trump administration had in mind when it demanded our neighbors return to NAFTA’s negotiating table.

Right-to-work statutes allow employees to opt out of paying fees to the unions that represent them in collective bargaining. These laws are frequently blamed for draining organized labor of financial resources and have likely contributed to the decline of union organizing over the past several decades. States are permitted to enact the laws under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, a landmark piece of union-busting legislation that congressional Republicans passed over President Harry Truman’s veto. Canada, which like the U.S. is seeking to strengthen NAFTA’s labor protections overall, would reportedly appreciate it if Washington would pass new federal legislation banning right-to-work provisions.

“I’m very pleased with the position the Canadian government is taking on labour standards,” Jerry Dias, president of Canada’s largest private-sector union, told reporters outside of this weekend’s NAFTA talks. “Canada’s got two problems: The low wage rates in Mexico and the right-to-work states in the United States.”

To be clear, there is zero chance that a Republican White House would agree to do away with right-to-work laws as part of a trade deal. Breaking the power of organized labor is a key piece of the party’s long-term agenda, and relinquishing that goal in order to appease our lefty neighbors would cause an uproar among the GOP donor class. Canada almost surely knows this, and is staking out an extreme negotiating position in order to signal that it’s treating these talks seriously and is prepared to ask for major concessions.

It’s also an ironic way to throw the Trump administration’s protectionist rhetoric back in its face, which seems like part of the point.

Our president of course loves to complain about cheap foreign labor undercutting American factory workers. And now and then, he has a point. Mexico, for instance, more or less lacks independent labor unions, and partly as a result, wages there have barely risen over the past 15 years, even as auto manufacturing has flourished within the country’s industrializing north. For this reason, the fact that the original NAFTA lacked basic, enforceable labor standards cutting across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is widely looked at as a mistake, which both the Trump administration and Canada are looking to rectify in the current renegotiations. The Trump administration’s official NAFTA wish list includes enshrining the “Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining” among all three countries.

But Canada’s right-to-work jab is a reminder that, for all our talk of raising the rest of the world to our own labor standards, America’s record on workers’ rights isn’t exactly pristine, and that much of the developed world may see a nonunion factory in Alabama much the way we see car plants in San Luis Potosi. In other words, we’re not always the ones being taken advantage of.

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Justin Trudeau Just Went Behind Trump’s Back To Deal With North Korea

By Natalie Dickinson
Politics | Published on August 9, 2017

Billions of people watched with trepidation yesterday as the world’s most unstable and erratic leaders, President Donald Trump of the United States and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the People’s Republic of North Korea, postured and responded to each other’s pugilistic bravados with increasing aggression.

The world was the closest it has been to nuclear warfare than it has been in decades, and there is little confidence that either of these men have the emotional maturity to back off and be the bigger man before it’s gone too far.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, is once again taking the initiative and filling the void of leadership created by the departure of President Obama from the Oval Office.

While Trump was busy delivering off-the-cuff tough-sounding threats and posturing on Twitter, Prime Minister Trudeau dispatched his Defense Secretary, Daniel Jean, to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang in order to try to soothe tempers.

Jean is hoping to help secure the release of Toronto Presbyterian minister Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim, who’s been held in North Korea for the last two years. But a Canadian government official made sure to point out that the envoy will “discuss other issues of regional concern,” and it’s unlikely that the conflict that Trump seems intent on provoking will not be a subject of serious consideration.

President Trump has never been one for negotiation or diplomacy, having spent his entire life hurling money and lawyers at problems until they went away. But in this case, he can’t, since he hasn’t even bothered to name an ambassador to South Korea.

 

 

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