Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's love of free trade does not apply to foreign wines

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      Understandably, many Canadians have a serious hate on for President Donald Trump.

      When he attacked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his benign speech at the end of the G7 summit, it only reinforced Trudeau's popularity at home and abroad.

      As a result, Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland are riding a wave of positive media coverage for their support for the global trading system.

      In a recent speech in Washington, Freeland invoked Irish poet William Butler Yeats, former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln, and the Europe-saving Marshall Plan in condemning 232 tariffs introduced by the United States.

      "They are a naked example of the United States putting its thumb on the scale, in violation of the very rules it helped to write," Freeland declared.

      She even quoted former U.S. president Ronald Reagan's "city on the hill" speech of 1989.

      At the time, Reagan was promoting greater trade and immigration. Freeland said that Canada believes in those values.

      But Freeland's actions don't always mirror her words.

      For instance, when the B.C. Liberal government under Christy Clark introduced changes to provincial wine policy that favoured B.C. producers, Freeland remained silent.

      She was the minister of international trade in 2016 when Ottawa-based diplomats representing the United States, European Union, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand all signed a letter of complaint to Clark.

      These diplomats represented governments with a combined population of more than one billion people.

      They all argued quite convincingly that their wine producers were being treated unfairly because B.C. wines were permitted on regular grocery shelves.

      Foreign wines, on the other hand, could only be sold in an expensive store-within-a-store concept in grocery stores, which required a separate cash register.

      Rather than speaking out about this unequal treatment of our major trading partners, Freeland let it go.

      Perhaps this is because Christy Clark was seen as a political ally of Justin Trudeau.

      The Obama and Trump administrations, as well as the Australians, have since filed complaints to the World Trade Organization.

      Canada is caught up in a costly trade battle precisely because Freeland, as the trade minister, and her government did not lift a finger to encourage the B.C. government to follow the very rules that the U.S. helped to write.

      Through their silence, Freeland and Trudeau were complicit in the B.C. Liberal government's action.

      Justin Trudeau and Christy Clark were on good terms before Trudeau became prime minister.
      Justin Trudeau

      It's just one example of Canada not having clean hands in its trade fight with the Americans.

      This is something you won't read in all the lavish recent coverage of Freeland for winning the Foreign Policy Group's Diplomat of the Year award.

      That's because it doesn't fit the storyline of Freeland presenting herself as one of the world's great free traders.

      Her position on B.C.'s wine rule could be costly for taxpayers, particularly if a World Trade Organization tribunal imposes penalties on Canada.

      Another problem could arise if the B.C. government has to redesign its retail wine policy to remain compliant with international trading rules.

      This, in turn, could conceivably lead to B.C. taxpayers having to bail out grocery companies that bought VQA licences to sell B.C. wines on their shelves.

      It could turn out to be a very expensive exercise.

      And it's all thanks to the Liberal government in Ottawa turning a blind eye to a reckless policy introduced by Trudeau's friend, Christy Clark, which was designed to boost wine producers in her constituency of Kelowna West.

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