CA President Darren Praznik participated in FCPC’s annual conference which featured an engaging line-up of speakers and panelists including CIBC’s Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal, retail and consumer futurist Doug Stephens, and environmental expert and author Tristam Stuart.
The conference highlight was a discussion with former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney who provided a history of the original NAFTA negotiations and his assessment of the re-negotiated agreement. He was quick to credit Prime Minister Trudeau with having put together negotiating team that did a “top-flight job for Canada” and met our country’s main objective of protecting and preserving the North American trading zone and Canada/U.S. trade.
Mulroney shared that Prime Minister Trudeau, in preparing for the re-negotiation of NAFTA, had sought his counsel as the Prime Minister who had led Canada during the negotiation of both the original Canada-US FTA and then the expanded North American FTA. The advice which Mulroney offered was “Keep your head down, your mouth shut – prepare, prepare, prepare – and be ready to walk away. Canada is not a two-bit country!”
In offering hisinsight on the current political climate around the globe, Mulroney noted that positive change occurs when “challenge meets leadership,” that government has a role in making life better – in preventing deprivation and degradation – and that more liberalized trade has and will continue to improve people’s lives. “The best antidote to protectionism,” said Mulroney, “is more liberalized trade, not less!” He also noted that in a time “ruled by polls, where even newspapers conduct focus groups on the news people want to hear, we have lost what we knew as 19-year-olds … just because it is popular doesn’t make it right!”