Trump's Labour Day surprise: an attack on union leader

Reuters  Aaron Bernstein

President Donald Trump took time on Labor Day to attack one of the country's top labor leaders.

President Donald Trump slammed what he termed "decades of abuse" by Canada with a new threat to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, a day after talks with the U.S.'s northern neighbour stalled hours before a deadline.

"Unfortunately, to date, the things he has done to hurt workers outpace what he has done to help workers", Trumka said.

But Trump issued a warning to both to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Congress on Saturday in a post on Twitter, writing he would go on without Canada and could unwind North American free trade if lawmakers would not support his approach.

Talks between the two countries ended without an agreement on Friday as negotiators failed to reach an agreement to include Canada in the deal before notice was sent to Congress.

Trump told Bloomberg Thursday that he would not make any compromises in the talks with Canada - but that he could not say that publicly because "it's going to be so insulting they're not going to be able to make a deal", the Toronto Star reported. The US president warned Congress against interfering, threatening to kill the deal single-handedly.

Gorka noted Canada has a almost 300-percent tariff on US dairy imports, while the European Union taxes USA vehicle imports at a rate approximately four times higher than the USA tax on European-made cars.

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Trumka, whose organization is an umbrella group for most unions, said the economies of the US, Canada and Mexico are "integrated" and "it's pretty hard to see how that would work without having Canada in the deal".

The move came after Trumka said in a TV appearance that a renegotiated trade deal to replace NAFTA should include Canada - the nation's largest trading partner and the source of many auto manufacturing jobs for US firms.

While the two sides failed to meet a deadline set by the White House, both USA and Canadian negotiators insisted that they were making progress.

"There is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new Nafta deal", Trump said in one of a series of tweets as he visited his Virginia golf club while three former presidents and a range of political dignitaries attended a Washington memorial for the late Senator John McCain.

Trump has charged that the deal wiped out American factory jobs. Nieto's successor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has had representatives at the U.S. -Mexico talks, but if the deal is not signed before he takes office he could add new demands and complicate the deal. "Because we've been told for over twenty-five years, 'trust us, this greement will be good for workers.' What we need is an agreement that we can enforce, no matter who's in the White House". Ottawa does have other complaints.

But under US trade rules, the USA team doesn't have to make public the text of the revamped agreement for 30 additional days, buying more time to reach a deal with the Canadians.

Experts have said the flashpoints include trade barriers that protect Canadian dairy farmers and Ottawa's insistence on keeping Nafta provisions for resolving disputes. And Trump has further threatened to put 25 percent tariffs on cars and auto parts sent from Canada into the United States - a move he could make without Congress' permission.