Canada is in uncharted territory -- uncharted for Canada, but not unprecedented. The trade tiff has unnecessarily spiralled out of control, and it says a lot about this country's maturity and savvy.
Donald Trump must think dealing with Trudeau and Freeland is like shooting fish in a barrel, and he has read them and marked them perfectly: Smooth and Spoiled, respectively.
Both have no common sense, and the temper tantrums are mystifying. Freeland throwing fits on US television is not a bright move: an angry foreigner blaming Americans is not going to persuade anyone of anything.
Powerful homicidal terrorist masterminds made threats to destroy and enslave the US, too, and Americans responded by marching into desolate and hostile nations before they dragged those same masterminds out of their caves. If the threat of annihilation does not phase your average American, a silly threat of adding duty to chocolate bars isn't going to phase them, either.
They don't scare easy.
And they don't care about Canada: they care about their own wallets.
And a foreigner making threats is going to be seen as an enemy.
But Spoiled isn't just stepping every manure pile in the field: she honestly is clueless.
Do not think Americans care if Canada slaps tariffs -- because Canada is not the only game in town, and it is more than obvious that there are other plans afoot. It is a competition, so to speak, and everything has been shaken up in order to re-gig things, meaning some nations will gain at the expense of others. No one is safe.
Canada can be easily replaced, and there is no shortage of replacement nations. The US has signalled that they want change in deals, and there are numerous options.
The US can easily pit Mexico against Canada, and smooth things over about the whole wall thing by increasing trade at Canada's expense. It is a Prisoner's Dilemma, and it is likely that an alliance can be easily disrupted.
If Mexico strikes a deal with the US, Canada is left out.
But the US can replace Canada as a trading partner with other places, from Saudi Arabia to Israel and a few willing European nations that would be more than happy to oblige to score brownie points with the electorate.
Not to mention there is a certain summit around the corner, and there is a market ripe for opening.
And Trump can easily change his mind and say he was kidding -- Canada cannot say the same. Bad feelings have been created.
If Spoiled thinks she has any cards to play, she doesn't. Ontario was a Liberal stronghold provincially and federally, and this week, it will fall out of the Grits' hands, and all of the debt they kept juggling will be exposed as it explodes under new and less experienced management who will have fewer connections who can keep the façade intact. It was simple for the provincial Liberals to use sleight of hand to make it seem the province was in strong shape -- it borrowed money it didn't have as it lavishly paid the civil service sector to boost the illusion of good wages and a healthy economy. Once the extent of the debt is exposed -- and the credit rating is dinged, the true troubles will begin here.
Had a bottom-line wonk like Stephen Harper or a silver fox like Jean Chretien done the negotiating, Canada would have already had a deal without disrupting the economy, but that's not what is happening. It is amateurs at the wheel who think it is all about them.
But it's not just Spoiled making trouble: it's also Smooth, who has no idea how optics work if it does not involve taking selfies. The Prime Minister's Meet the Press interview reminds me of an old journalism war story: when Lesley Stahl was a correspondent for the CBC Evening News during the 1980 US presidential campaign. She did a television report on how Ronald Reagan's campaign was propaganda, and she used campaign ads showing American flags and all those other patriotic triggers. According to Stahl, after the report aired, one of Reagan's operatives called her to thank her for doing the report because it was free advertising: no one would pay attention to her words.
They would see the glorious images and his sales pitch to the American people.
She conceded that he was right.
And he handily won the election.
The Meet the Press interview had the same chasm between message and optics -- but not one that worked in Canada's favour. Trudeau used the wrong trigger words: soldiers, national security, insulting, and the like.
Antagonistic and angry words from a foreigner as he patronized Americans.
The Trumpian base have now been primed to see Canada as a threat. Their man warned them about Smooth and Spoiled, and for many Americans, that's all they know about Canada -- and now those two proved Trump's thesis to be correct as the duo are making threats to economically harm Americans.
The base are not going to get mad at Trump -- they will expect him to put those uppity foreigners in their place.
And he can do it. Americans have an uncanny ability to dump a mediocre partner in order to find a vastly better one against all impossible odds.
Canadians are the ones who stick to a status quo as they fly by the seat of their pants.
Americans are an ambitious lot who think big and have a plan.
And they are also rugged survivors who relish comebacks, resurrections, redemptions, and revenge.
The federal Liberals have made a toxic mess and are making it worse with their entitled narrative. They do not know how to deal with Trump. They do not know how to deal with Americans, many who are mystified at Canada's extreme reaction.
That tantrum hints at something very disturbing: if Canada was in solid economic shape, they could fluff this hiccup off.
But they aren't. Spoiled and Smooth are having an irrational meltdown.
There is a reason for that: they know the Canadian economy is a house of cards and Hurricane Donald can blow it all down in a heartbeat.
For all the cheery talk of sunny ways, a bad storm is on the horizon.
Trump can back off, but the damage has been done because Spoiled and Smooth have no clue how to behave in public, or how to think a single step ahead.
They are sheltered. They are not pioneers. Their actual experience in high-stakes deals is nil.
And you do not bring children to a high-stakes card game played by the adults.
Because you have to have a poker face whether you have a winning hand -- or a losing one.
Had this been done by the likes of Stephen Harper or Jean Chretien, for instance, this wouldn't even be a thing. Both leaders had vastly different styles and strategies, but both could read a situation and work with it. Both knew how to negotiate with the US and then just shove off without drawing unwanted attention to Canada.
I find it very interesting that Chretien made the comments on how Canada should have gone into it -- and that he made them in public. That says something significant about the true dynamic between him and the current Prime Minister. It is a very ill omen.
We are starting to see an acceleration of a shift where Canada is not getting their own way -- and there is some sort of insult to the injury. It has been one misadventure after another, and we have politicians snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The Grits have always been known as the Government Party because they have a knack of knowing how to stay in power, but now something has gone horribly wrong in their calculations.
What happens next remains to be seen, but expect more injury -- and insults to hurdle directly to this side of the border...