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Obama Staffer To Canada: Just Ignore Our Anti-NAFTA Rhetoric

by @ 7:10 am on February 28, 2008. Filed under 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Politics

A Canadian television station reports that staffers for Barack Obama have told Canadian officials to basically ignore the candidate’s statement’s against the North American Free Trade Agreement:

Barack Obama has ratcheted up his attacks on NAFTA, but a senior member of his campaign team told a Canadian official not to take his criticisms seriously, CTV News has learned.

Both Obama and Hillary Clinton have been critical of the long-standing North American Free Trade Agreement over the course of the Democratic primaries, saying that the deal has cost U.S. workers’ jobs.

Within the last month, a top staff member for Obama’s campaign telephoned Michael Wilson, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, and warned him that Obama would speak out against NAFTA, according to Canadian sources.

The staff member reassured Wilson that the criticisms would only be campaign rhetoric, and should not be taken at face value.

The Obama campaign has said that the report is “implausible” but the Canadians are clearly concerned:

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Wednesday that the candidates’ criticisms of NAFTA were misguided.

“(They) should recognize that NAFTA benefits the U.S. tremendously,” he said. “Those who speak of it as helpful to (just the) Canadian or Mexican economies are missing the point.”

Liberal MP and finance critic John McCallum told Canada AM that the U.S. pulling out of NAFTA “would be a disaster for Canada.”

But he added, “I hope and I believe that it’s politics, because they’re in a high-stakes contest. I believe after this nominee is decided, this issue will go away.”

The problem is that both candidates have been pretty clear about their desire to renegotiate the treaty (ignoring, most likely the fact that it took almost a decade to reach the original agreement) and it’s going to be difficult for them to back away from their protectionist rhetoric.

Update: Here’s a video of the CTV report:

Update: The Canadian Embassy and the Obama campaign have both denied this report.

6 Responses to “Obama Staffer To Canada: Just Ignore Our Anti-NAFTA Rhetoric”

  1. Molly says:

    “Just words” … He says a lot of words, usually takes them from other people, and the reality of course is he doesn’t even mean them.

  2. canadian gal says:

    obama’s camp and canadian embassay both deny – but….

    “The facts of our story are accurate.” – Greg McIsaac, Communications Manager, News Information and Current Affairs, CTV

  3. [...] television station CTV has a follow-up report to it’s allegations yesterday that the Obama campaign had contacted Canadian diplomats regarding the candidates attack on NAFTA: The Obama campaign told CTV late Thursday night that no message was passed to the Canadian [...]

  4. [...] Obama Staffer To Canada: Just Ignore Our Anti-NAFTA Rhetoric More On The Obama/Canada NAFTA Story   [link] [...]

  5. jkhn says:

    This is sheer stupid to discuss the internal US matters with foreign government without a discussion in congress / senat. This act will create damaging impact in the US economy. Politicians like obama thinks that the people will forget all that he promised in few days time after the election. Because he knows that he has promised so much that its difficult for him to keep track of so how can people keep track of these things?

    This will lead to a dangerous situation for the nation when it comes to foreign policies. Guys if obama discusses with foreign government without having a debate with congressmen and senators as he did on NAFTA. It will be just his hidden agenda that you will see

    No politician even the aboriginal tribal leaders will not discuss the internal economic factors with foreign governments unless they debate among parlament and congress to reach conclusions.

    This act seems to be a rediculous! Think about what he will be talking to Iran and Iraq folks?

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