Monday, June 25, 2018

How Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau Might Try to Get Back at Trump for His Tariffs

This is a great idea. Let's see how the stable genius would deal with this move.

Op-eds in The Houston Chronicle and the Canadian news magazine Maclean's suggested the only way to quell the rising trade tensions is to strike at Trump's businesses. While some countries, such as China, have appeared to try and sway the president through treating his family's businesses more favorably, countries have not made moves to curtail the businesses' activity within their borders, reports Business Insider.

Trump-branded skyscrapers in Toronto and Vancouver represent the president's most prominent business ventures in the country.

"I propose that instead of taxing the import of American serviettes, we tax Trump," Scott Gilmore, a former Canadian diplomat said.

 Specifically, Gillmore suggested the use of Canada's Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, also known as the Magnitsky Act. The law was designed to punish foreign officials engaged in corruption by allowing the Canadian government to crack down on their businesses.

According to BI, Gilmore's suggestion picked up enough steam to gain the attention of Canada's lawmakers. Canadian Foreign Minster Chrystia Freeland — the country's chief trade negotiator — was asked about the use of the Magnitsky Act by Erin Weir, a member of the Canadian parliament, during a question-and-answer session.

"We are now in a consultation period, we welcome ideas from all Canadians on what should and what should not be in our retaliation list," Freeland said.



  1. I'm not sure that the employees and customers of, and the suppliers to, these Trump businesses in Canada would agree that this is a great idea. It strikes me as being similar to levying economic sanctions against a country: the effect is to squeeze the citizens to get the leaders to change their actions.

    1. I think it might be possible to make a libertarian defense of this policy. Trump has committed aggression against US buyers and Canadian sellers by interfering with what would have been mutually beneficial transactions. As such, seizing his assets is justified PROVIDED THAT IT GOES TO MAKING THE VICTIMS WHOLE.

      Of course, this last caveat is huge because we can’t know who specifically was hurt since Trump stopped them from ever happening in the first place. So identifying and compensating the victims is practically impossible. Although they presumably would benefit if the objective of deterring tariffs is achieved.

    2. Evan:

      I agree in general terms that there could be a sense in which this accords with a libertarian notion of justice.

      I would, however, quibble with some of the mechanics. I've always taken the view that the right to punish an aggressor is personal to the victim, and thus only the victim can take action (or not), decide on the punishment (or decide not to punish), hire someone to do this for him, and/or sell his right to someone else. This is not the case here, where the Canadian government would be pretending to be the victim in terms of pursuing the aggressor (even if Trudeau handed over the proceeds to the victims).

      The other obvious issue is that the Canadian government would be using taxpayer funds to pursue this policy, and thus those who were not harmed would have to pay for the enforcement action.

      It would be better to get to your end result by harmed Canadians suing Trump directly, and enforcing that judgment against his local assets.