Well, sort of.
Alexander Panetta reports that an Oct. 25th letter signed by former PM Stephen Harper and sent to clients of his firm Harper & Associates has been “obtained” by the Canadian Press.
It is entitled “Napping on NAFTA” and contains some criticisms and concerns about how the current government is handling the negotiations.
The criticisms are solid and include issues such as too quickly rejecting U.S. proposals, trying to tie negotiations to Mexico, and pushing social issues.
In his role of consultant Stephen Harper warns his clients:
“I fear that the NAFTA re-negotiation is going very badly. I also believe that President (Donald) Trump’s threat to terminate NAFTA is not a bluff… I believe this threat is real. Therefore, Canada’s government needs to get its head around this reality: it does not matter whether current American proposals are worse than what we have now. What matters in evaluating them is whether it is worth having a trade agreement with the Americans or not.”
But there is another side to this story.
How did the Canadian Press “obtain” this letter? Was it a deliberate leak or what? The reason that is important is because the Trudeau gov’t is going ballistic over it, as you can read in Panetta’s article. They are basically accusing the former Prime Minister of deliberately trying to sabotage Canada’s NAFTA negotiation efforts.
If you follow Twitter, this is a most interesting exchange where Ben Harper actually challenges Panetta on the public release of the memo that was intended for Harper and Associates’ clients.
If I were a conspiracy theorist I would have to marvel at the convenient timing of this story. It may very well be a “squirrel” moment in an attempt to deflect unwanted media attention away from Trudeau’s embattled Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
Or perhaps there are even more sinister reasons.