No more Mr. Nice Trump: president goes after Canada on wood, dairy, lumber

WASHINGTON, United States of America – Ever since Donald Trump’s election last fall, the Canadian government has clung to a strategy of low-drama, under-the-radar conversations about trade to keep investors calm in the choppy waters of a NAFTA renegotiation.

It has no plans to change course, no matter how hard the U.S. president tries to rock the boat.

Officials perceive Trump’s sudden spurt of Canada-bashing as a calculated move, typical of his negotiating style, and designed to instill a little fear as NAFTA talks approach.

“(We) are not fazed by it,” one such insider said Thursday.

Trump delivered his strongest-ever broadside at America’s northern neighbour, piling atop his complaints earlier in the week about Canadian dairy and adding fresh gripes for good measure — this time about energy and lumber.

“We can’t let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers,” Trump said in the Oval Office.

“Included in there is lumber, timber and energy. We’re going to have to get to the negotiating table with Canada very, very quickly.”

Trump’s sudden embrace of a harder line is a sharp reversal from a few weeks ago.

This is the same president who recently played down irritants with Canada; he said he just wanted to do a little trade tweaking. Suddenly, he’s tweaking Canada’s nose — twice in a week, with his second twist even more forceful than the first.

Canadians will soon learn whether it’s just pre-negotiation bluster or a harbinger of hardball: Trump promised more details within a couple of weeks about his government’s plans for the North American Free Trade Agreement, with discussions likely to start later this year.

He provided no rationale for his complaints.

On energy, Canada provides the U.S. more than one-third of its oil imports — and does so under a stable, locked-in ratio guaranteed in NAFTA. On lumber, cheaper Canadian wood has reduced the cost of U.S. homes but also caused recurring legal spats with the U.S. industry that alleges product-dumping.

On dairy, he offered a scintilla of detail.

Trump made it obvious his complaints from earlier this week in Wisconsin were specifically about recent rule changes on milk classification, not on the longer-term issue of Canada’s supply-management system.

“Canada, what they’ve done to our dairy farm workers, is a disgrace. It’s a disgrace,” he said. “Rules, regulations, different things have changed — and our farmers in Wisconsin and New York state are being put out of business.”

It was a far cry from the tune Trump was singing in February.

After meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he lauded the bilateral trade relationship, saying it required only tweaking. He told people he was pleased with the meeting, and even gave Trudeau a friendly shout-out in his prime-time speech to Congress.

In an interview Thursday with Bloomberg, the prime minister sounded resigned to a future filled with presidential mood swings.

Asked about Trump’s remarks earlier in the week about dairy, Trudeau acknowledged the likelihood that the message from the White House might occasionally switch from one day to the next.

Indeed, he actually cast the topsy-turvy messaging as a positive thing. He called it an opportunity — a sign the president listens to the people he speaks with, and keeps an open mind to changing his views.

“(Trump is) a little bit unlike many politicians,” the prime minister said, acknowledging the magnitude of his understatement amid laughter from the crowd.

“As politicians we’re very much trained to say something and stick with it. Whereas he has shown if he says one thing and then actually hears good counter-arguments or good reasons why he should shift his position, he will take a different position if it’s a better one, if the arguments win him over.

“I think there’s a challenge in that for electors, but there’s also an opportunity in that for people who engage with him.”

Canada has ample reasons to engage.

U.S. policy-makers have decisions to make that will affect the northern neighbour on multiple fronts including: NAFTA, softwood lumber, the possibility of a U.S. import tax, and Buy American rules.

Already the uncertainty has caused some businesses to pause investments in Canada, according to the Bank of Canada.

In an effort to soothe those concerns, the Canadian government repeatedly portrays NAFTA negotiations as no big deal, just another adjustment to an agreement adjusted several times already.

While Trump’s “America First” attitude has yet to show up in any successful legislation, it has appeared in numerous executive actions, including the order he was signing in his office Thursday as he complained about Canada.

That order sets a timeline for his administration to study possible tariffs on foreign steel. Ironically, one of Trump’s guests in his office for the signing ceremony was the head of the United Steelworkers union — Leo Gerard, a Canadian, born in Sudbury, Ont.

Trump’s gripes about Canada came at the end of his remarks about steel. He prefaced them by saying, “I wasn’t going to do this,” then launched into complaints about Canadian dairy, wood, and energy and its impact on the U.S.

The Canadian government responded with a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

On dairy, Freeland said, Canada buys five times more than it sells to the U.S.; on lumber, Canadian producers have always prevailed in past court cases, and a protracted dispute would only drive up U.S. housing costs.

And as for oil, she described the stable supply from Canada as a job-creating lifeblood of the U.S. economy.

“Our government will always defend Canada’s interests,” she said.

“Any increase of trade barriers between our countries would significantly impact jobs in the United States, as well as in Canada.”

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Trump goes after Canada on wood, dairy, lumber

WASHINGTON — Ever since Donald Trump was elected last fall, Canada’s government has been clinging to a strategy of low-drama, under-the-radar conversations about trade that keep investors calm in the choppy waters of a NAFTA renegotiation.

The U.S. president has stopped co-operating.

Trump delivered his strongest-ever broadside at America’s northern neighbour Thursday, piling atop his complaints earlier in the week about Canadian dairy and adding fresh gripes for good measure — this time about energy and lumber.

“We can’t let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers,” Trump said in the Oval Office.

“Included in there is lumber, timber and energy. We’re going to have to get to the negotiating table with Canada very, very quickly.”

This is the same president who recently played down irritants with Canada — he said he just wanted to do a little trade tweaking. Suddenly, he’s tweaking Canada’s nose — twice in a week, with his second twist even more forceful than the first.

Canadians will soon learn whether it’s just pre-negotiation bluster or a harbinger of hardball: Trump promised more details within a couple of weeks about his government’s plans for the North American Free Trade Agreement, with discussions likely to start later this year.

He provided no rationale for his complaints.

On energy, Canada provides the U.S. more than one-third of its oil imports — and does so under a stable, locked-in ratio guaranteed in NAFTA. On lumber, cheaper Canadian wood has reduced the cost of U.S. homes but also caused recurring legal spats with the U.S. industry that alleges product-dumping.

On dairy, he offered a scintilla of detail.

Trump made it obvious his complaints from earlier this week in Wisconsin were specifically about recent rule changes on milk classification, not on the longer-term issue of Canada’s supply-management system.

“Canada, what they’ve done to our dairy farm workers, is a disgrace. It’s a disgrace,” he said. “Rules, regulations, different things have changed — and our farmers in Wisconsin and New York state are being put out of business.”

It was a far cry from the tune Trump was singing in February.

After meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he lauded the bilateral trade relationship, saying it required only tweaking. He told people he was pleased with the meeting, and even gave Trudeau a friendly shout-out in his prime-time speech to Congress.

In an interview Thursday with Bloomberg, the prime minister sounded resigned to a future filled with presidential mood swings.

Asked about Trump’s remarks earlier in the week about dairy, Trudeau acknowledged the likelihood that the message from the White House might occasionally switch from one day to the next.

Indeed, he actually cast the topsy-turvy messaging as a positive thing. He called it an opportunity — a sign the president listens to the people he speaks with, and keeps an open mind to changing his views.

“(Trump is) a little bit unlike many politicians,” the prime minister said, acknowledging the magnitude of his understatement amid laughter from the crowd.

“As politicians we’re very much trained to say something and stick with it. Whereas he has shown if he says one thing and then actually hears good counter-arguments or good reasons why he should shift his position, he will take a different position if it’s a better one, if the arguments win him over.

“I think there’s a challenge in that for electors, but there’s also an opportunity in that for people who engage with him.”

Canada has ample reasons to engage.

U.S. policy-makers have decisions to make that will affect the northern neighbour on multiple fronts including: NAFTA, softwood lumber, the possibility of a U.S. import tax, and Buy American rules.

Already the uncertainty has caused some businesses to pause investments in Canada, according to the Bank of Canada.

In an effort to soothe those concerns, the Canadian government repeatedly portrays NAFTA negotiations as no big deal, just another adjustment to an agreement adjusted several times already.

While Trump’s “America First” attitude has yet to show up in any successful legislation, it has appeared in numerous executive actions, including the order he was signing in his office Thursday as he complained about Canada.

That order sets a timeline for his administration to study possible tariffs on foreign steel. Ironically, one of Trump’s guests in his office for the signing ceremony was the head of the United Steelworkers union — Leo Gerard, a Canadian, born in Sudbury, Ont.

Trump’s gripes about Canada came at the end of his remarks about steel. He prefaced them by saying, “I wasn’t going to do this,” then launched into complaints about Canadian dairy, wood, and energy and its impact on the U.S.

The Canadian government responded with a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

On dairy, Freeland said, Canada buys five times more than it sells to the U.S.; on lumber, Canadian producers have always prevailed in past court cases, and a protracted dispute would only drive up U.S. housing costs.

And as for oil, she described the stable supply from Canada as a job-creating lifeblood of the U.S. economy.

“Our government will always defend Canada’s interests,” she said.

“Any increase of trade barriers between our countries would significantly impact jobs in the United States, as well as in Canada.”

Go to Source

Trump goes after Canada on energy, dairy, lumber

Ever since Donald Trump was elected last fall, Canada’s government has been clinging to a strategy of low-drama, under-the-radar conversations about trade that keep investors calm in the choppy waters of a NAFTA renegotiation.

The U.S. president has stopped co-operating.

Trump delivered his strongest-ever broadside at America’s northern neighbour Thursday, piling atop his complaints earlier in the week about Canadian dairy and adding fresh gripes for good measure – this time about energy and lumber.

“We can’t let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers,” Trump said in the Oval Office.

“Included in there is lumber, timber and energy. We’re going to have to get to the negotiating table with Canada very, very quickly.”

This is the same president who recently played down irritants with Canada – he said he just wanted to do a little trade tweaking. Suddenly, he’s tweaking Canada’s nose – twice in a week, with his second twist even more forceful than the first.

Canadians will soon learn whether it’s just pre-negotiation bluster or a harbinger of hardball: Trump promised more details within a couple of weeks about his government’s plans for the North American Free Trade Agreement, with discussions likely to start later this year.

He provided no rationale for his complaints.

On energy, Canada provides the U.S. more than one-third of its oil imports – and does so under a stable, locked-in ratio guaranteed in NAFTA. On lumber, cheaper Canadian wood has reduced the cost of U.S. homes but also caused recurring legal spats with the U.S. industry that alleges product-dumping.

On dairy, he offered a scintilla of detail.

Trump made it obvious his complaints from earlier this week in Wisconsin were specifically about recent rule changes on milk classification, not on the longer-term issue of Canada’s supply-management system.

“Canada, what they’ve done to our dairy farm workers, is a disgrace. It’s a disgrace,” he said. “Rules, regulations, different things have changed – and our farmers in Wisconsin and New York state are being put out of business.”

It was a far cry from the tune Trump was singing in February.

After meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he lauded the bilateral trade relationship, saying it required only tweaking. He told people he was pleased with the meeting, and even gave Trudeau a friendly shout-out in his prime-time speech to Congress.

In an interview Thursday with Bloomberg, the prime minister sounded resigned to a future filled with presidential mood swings.

Asked about Trump’s remarks earlier in the week about dairy, Trudeau acknowledged the likelihood that the message from the White House might occasionally switch from one day to the next.

Indeed, he actually cast the topsy-turvy messaging as a positive thing. He called it an opportunity – a sign the president listens to the people he speaks with, and keeps an open mind to changing his views.

“(Trump is) a little bit unlike many politicians,” the prime minister said, acknowledging the magnitude of his understatement amid laughter from the crowd.

“As politicians we’re very much trained to say something and stick with it. Whereas he has shown if he says one thing and then actually hears good counter-arguments or good reasons why he should shift his position, he will take a different position if it’s a better one, if the arguments win him over.

“I think there’s a challenge in that for electors, but there’s also an opportunity in that for people who engage with him.”

Canada has ample reasons to engage.

U.S. policy-makers have decisions to make that will affect the northern neighbour on multiple fronts including: NAFTA, softwood lumber, the possibility of a U.S. import tax, and Buy American rules.

Already the uncertainty has caused some businesses to pause investments in Canada, according to the Bank of Canada.

In an effort to soothe those concerns, the Canadian government repeatedly portrays NAFTA negotiations as no big deal, just another adjustment to an agreement adjusted several times already.

While Trump’s “America First” attitude has yet to show up in any successful legislation, it has appeared in numerous executive actions, including the order he was signing in his office Thursday as he complained about Canada.

That order sets a timeline for his administration to study possible tariffs on foreign steel. Ironically, one of Trump’s guests in his office for the signing ceremony was the head of the United Steelworkers union – Leo Gerard, a Canadian, born in Sudbury, Ont.

Trump’s gripes about Canada came at the end of his remarks about steel. He prefaced them by saying, “I wasn’t going to do this,” then launched into complaints about Canadian dairy, wood, and energy and its impact on the U.S.

The Canadian government responded with a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

On dairy, Freeland said, Canada buys five times more than it sells to the U.S.; on lumber, Canadian producers have always prevailed in past court cases, and a protracted dispute would only drive up U.S. housing costs.

And as for oil, she described the stable supply from Canada as a job-creating lifeblood of the U.S. economy.

“Our government will always defend Canada’s interests,” she said.

“Any increase of trade barriers between our countries would significantly impact jobs in the United States, as well as in Canada.”



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CanadaNo more Mr. Nice Trump: president goes after Canada on wood, dairy, lumber

WASHINGTON — Ever since Donald Trump was elected last fall, Canada’s government has been clinging to a strategy of low-drama, under-the-radar conversations about trade that keep investors calm in the choppy waters of a NAFTA renegotiation.

The U.S. president has stopped co-operating.

Trump delivered his strongest-ever broadside at America’s northern neighbour Thursday, piling atop his complaints earlier in the week about Canadian dairy and adding fresh gripes for good measure — this time about energy and lumber.

“We can’t let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers,” Trump said in the Oval Office.

“Included in there is lumber, timber and energy. We’re going to have to get to the negotiating table with Canada very, very quickly.”

This is the same president who recently played down irritants with Canada — he said he just wanted to do a little trade tweaking. Suddenly, he’s tweaking Canada’s nose — twice in a week, with his second twist even more forceful than the first.

Canadians will soon learn whether it’s just pre-negotiation bluster or a harbinger of hardball: Trump promised more details within a couple of weeks about his government’s plans for the North American Free Trade Agreement, with discussions likely to start later this year.

He provided no rationale for his complaints.

On energy, Canada provides the U.S. more than one-third of its oil imports — and does so under a stable, locked-in ratio guaranteed in NAFTA. On lumber, cheaper Canadian wood has reduced the cost of U.S. homes but also caused recurring legal spats with the U.S. industry that alleges product-dumping.

On dairy, he offered a scintilla of detail.

Trump made it obvious his complaints from earlier this week in Wisconsin were specifically about recent rule changes on milk classification, not on the longer-term issue of Canada’s supply-management system.

“Canada, what they’ve done to our dairy farm workers, is a disgrace. It’s a disgrace,” he said. “Rules, regulations, different things have changed — and our farmers in Wisconsin and New York state are being put out of business.”

It was a far cry from the tune Trump was singing in February.

After meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he lauded the bilateral trade relationship, saying it required only tweaking. He told people he was pleased with the meeting, and even gave Trudeau a friendly shout-out in his prime-time speech to Congress.

In an interview Thursday with Bloomberg, the prime minister sounded resigned to a future filled with presidential mood swings.

Asked about Trump’s remarks earlier in the week about dairy, Trudeau acknowledged the likelihood that the message from the White House might occasionally switch from one day to the next.

Indeed, he actually cast the topsy-turvy messaging as a positive thing. He called it an opportunity — a sign the president listens to the people he speaks with, and keeps an open mind to changing his views.

“(Trump is) a little bit unlike many politicians,” the prime minister said, acknowledging the magnitude of his understatement amid laughter from the crowd.

“As politicians we’re very much trained to say something and stick with it. Whereas he has shown if he says one thing and then actually hears good counter-arguments or good reasons why he should shift his position, he will take a different position if it’s a better one, if the arguments win him over.

“I think there’s a challenge in that for electors, but there’s also an opportunity in that for people who engage with him.”

Canada has ample reasons to engage.

U.S. policy-makers have decisions to make that will affect the northern neighbour on multiple fronts including: NAFTA, softwood lumber, the possibility of a U.S. import tax, and Buy American rules.

Already the uncertainty has caused some businesses to pause investments in Canada, according to the Bank of Canada.

In an effort to soothe those concerns, the Canadian government repeatedly portrays NAFTA negotiations as no big deal, just another adjustment to an agreement adjusted several times already.

While Trump’s “America First” attitude has yet to show up in any successful legislation, it has appeared in numerous executive actions, including the order he was signing in his office Thursday as he complained about Canada.

That order sets a timeline for his administration to study possible tariffs on foreign steel. Ironically, one of Trump’s guests in his office for the signing ceremony was the head of the United Steelworkers union — Leo Gerard, a Canadian, born in Sudbury, Ont.

Trump’s gripes about Canada came at the end of his remarks about steel. He prefaced them by saying, “I wasn’t going to do this,” then launched into complaints about Canadian dairy, wood, and energy and its impact on the U.S.

The Canadian government responded with a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

On dairy, Freeland said, Canada buys five times more than it sells to the U.S.; on lumber, Canadian producers have always prevailed in past court cases, and a protracted dispute would only drive up U.S. housing costs.

And as for oil, she described the stable supply from Canada as a job-creating lifeblood of the U.S. economy.

“Our government will always defend Canada’s interests,” she said.

“Any increase of trade barriers between our countries would significantly impact jobs in the United States, as well as in Canada.”

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Canadian minister looking forward to Trump trade talks

TORONTO (AP) — A Canadian government minister said Thursday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration is looking forward to trade negotiations with Donald Trump despite the U.S. president’s recent ramp up of criticism of Canadian policy.

Trump made his most critical comments yet about Canadian trade earlier in the day.

“We can’t let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “Included in there is lumber, timber and energy. We’re going to have to get to the negotiating table with Canada very, very quickly.”

The president took issue with Canadian changes on milk classification that he said have put farmers in Wisconsin and New York state out of business. Canada changed its policy on pricing domestic milk to cover more dairy ingredients, leading to lower prices for Canadian products including ultra-filtered milk that compete with U.S. milk.

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“Canada, what they’ve done to our dairy farm workers, is a disgrace. It’s a disgrace,” Trump said.

Canadian Natural Resource Minister Jim Carr told The Associated Press that the government will make its arguments about trade based on facts.

“Decision makers make statements that indicate a position that they intend to take and we’re in the business of responding to positions that are actually taken,” Carr said when asked about Trump’s comments. “Our government looks forward to sitting down with the United States. We will judge American policy when American policy is announced.”

Carr said Canada’s government knows it can make a very persuasive case for the integration of the two nations’ economies when the sides meet for trade talks in a few months. He said they can always look to improve the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump said this week he would make “some very big changes” to the NAFTA treaty with Canada and Mexico or “we are going to get rid of NAFTA for once and for all.”

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland noted in a statement in response to Trump that any increase of trade barriers between the two countries would significantly affect jobs in the U.S. and Canada.

Trudeau is worried about Trump’s protectionist talk and has repeatedly sent his ministers to the U.S. to talk about the importance of the trade relationship. Carr will be in New York next week.

“It is part of the government of Canada’s strategy to make arguments and make friends,” he said.

When Trudeau visited the White House in February, Trump praised the “outstanding” trade relationship between the United States and Canada, saying he would only be “tweaking” it going forward.

Relations with the U.S. are crucial for Canada, since more than 75 percent of its exports go to the U.S. Eighteen percent of U.S. exports go to Canada.

“Canada would enter any negotiations with the objective to make it better for both countries,” Carr said. “We have such a long and fruitful history of trade with the United States.”

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UK election: Can Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn win the election?

London: “Holy is the true light, and passing wonderful.”

These words, embossed on the ceiling in bold, golden capitals, halo Jeremy Corbyn’s head as he makes his first big election campaign speech.

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The venue is Church House, a heritage-listed building tucked round the corner from Westminster Abbey. Winston Churchill was a big fan: he chose it as the alternative home for Parliament during the war. It’s the administrative headquarters of the Church of England – the general synod meets here twice a year.

On Thursday, it’s packed with another kind of true believer. In this room, today, faith trumps reason, hope conquers fear, and paradise – the Treasury bench of the House of Commons – awaits the just and the good.

The golden script on the ceiling promises it: “They inherit a home of unfading splendour, wherein they rejoice with gladness.”

Warm-up act MP Ian Lavery assures the crowd it is his great honour to introduce “the next prime minister of the United Kingdom”.

And in walks Jeremy Corbyn, grinning underneath his trim white beard.

There is a standing ovation. JC, apparently, has them believing in miracles.

Lazarus returned from the dead, and so too can Labour return from 24 per cent in the polls (the latest YouGov figure), literally half the Conservatives’ figure, in just a month and a half.

Water was turned into wine, and so too can Corbyn turn his 23 per cent approval rating – less than half his opponent’s and one of the worst of any Labour leader in history – into a ticket to Downing Street.

“We are bigger, stronger and more determined than we have ever been,” Corbyn assures the room – and the electorate on the other side of the cameras. “We will prove the establishment experts wrong and change the direction of this election.”

Those “experts” have taken a pummelling recently. But their polls project that Labour will be pummelled on June 8. The laws of statistics and probability have Labour winning fewer than half the number of seats as the Conservatives, who would have their biggest Commons majority since Margaret Thatcher’s after the 1983 election.

That was the year Thatcher rode a wave of post-Falklands popularity, against a Labour gutted by defections to the new Social Democratic Party (SDP). The Labour of 1983 had swung sharply to the left under Michael Foot, whose 39-page election manifesto was later famously dubbed – by a fellow Labour MP – “the longest suicide note in history”.

That document proposed unilateral nuclear disarmament, higher taxes for the rich, renationalisation of recently privatised bodies such as British Telecom (ironically, it also included withdrawal from the European Common Market).

Corbyn’s manifesto is expected to be significantly less radical. But his rhetoric echoes the old politics.

On Thursday the Labour leader flies a very red flag. He rails against the powerful, the “cosy club”, the “wealth extractors”, the “corrupt rule of the City and the tax dodgers”.

“It’s the establishment versus the people and it is our historic duty to make sure that the people prevail,” he says.

Cartels are hoarding wealth that belongs to the workers – the nurses, teachers, builders and carers, he says.

“I don’t play by [the establishment’s] rules. They are yesterday’s rules, set by failed political and corporate elites we should be consigning to the past.”

It’s an energetic, punchy speech, despite an oddly paced delivery that often sees him end obvious applause-bait lines with his quiet voice, rather than his “cheer now” voice.

But it’s the content rather than the delivery that raises eyebrows.

ITV’s political editor Robert Preston asks afterwards “is there anyone alive who has heard class-war rhetoric like this from a Labour leader when fighting to win a general election?”.

After Corbyn’s speech, a journalist has the temerity to ask if he’s not just a member of the “Islington elite”. The crowd boos. Corbyn hits back, smartly, pointing out his constituency has its share of poverty, social injustice and inequality.

A journalist mentions the polls and Corbyn sarcastically thanks her for bringing it up. But he’s prepared with a zinger comeback.

“All I can say is, in 2015, almost exactly two years ago, I was given 200-to-one as an outside chance,” he says.

It’s true. The crowd loves it.

Two years ago, of course, Labour was just about to go into an election under Ed Miliband, which it was projected to win or nearly win, but instead convincingly lost (leaving pollsters red-faced and apologetic for their forecasts’ failure).

The consensus among commentators in the wash-up was that Miliband had been just a little too left-wing for the electorate – though it’s interesting to note how many of his policies, such as caps on energy bills, were quietly adopted by the Conservative government.

In early June 2015 Corbyn announced he would run for leader, as an “anti-austerity” candidate. He only just managed the minimum number of nominations from his parliamentary colleagues who saw him as useful to widen the debate but never expected him to win it.

Bookmakers didn’t rate him. William Hill put him at 100-1, Ladbrokes 200-1 and Betfair an extraordinary 980-1.

But in the leadership battle that followed over the summer Corbyn defied all predictions. He was backed by trade unions who didn’t want a return to Blair-style “New Labour”, and grassroots campaigners from the anti-war and Occupy movements. It was cheap and easy to register with the party as a supporter, and many did, especially young people, excited by Corbyn’s left-field style and old-school left-wing politics, flooding social media with their enthusiasm.

Party members suspected they were being infiltrated by “entryists”, interlopers from the Socialist Party. But their complaints fell on deaf ears, especially as Corbyn packed room after room on a barnstorming campaign. In the end he won not just the most votes from Labour MPs and MEPs, but also from members of affiliated organisations such as unions, and among the registered supporters both new and old.

It felt like a breath of fresh air. There was a sense that he was a genuine political phenomenon, a cut-through, plain-speaking figure who could sell the left’s message, draw on resentment against austerity economics, and transform Westminster.

But Corbyn has never hit such heights again. His eccentric style in Parliament (he likes posing questions supplied by voters to the PM) exacerbated his unpopularity with his own parliamentary colleagues, who felt he was regularly trounced by the government in the Westminster bullring. He was forced into reshuffle after reshuffle as MPs decided they couldn’t work with him in the shadow ministry. And his popularity among potential voters dropped, month by month, until many – even within his own party – considered him unelectable​.

A wave of Labour MPs have chosen this snap election to announce their retirement. Many used age as an excuse, some say it’s time to move on. But many might have hung on if they thought they’d be on a winning team – or could say with a straight face they thought their leader would make a good prime minister.

On Thursday, former MP and longtime ally of Corbyn, Bob Marshall-Andres, revealed he had joined the Liberal Democrats, calling his former party “a political basket case” that had failed to rise to the challenge of the Brexit referendum campaign.

Middlesbrough MP Tom Blenkinsop​ said he wouldn’t stand as “I have made no secret about my significant and irreconcilable differences with the current Labour leadership”.

Slough’s Fiona MacTaggart​ said she had been “bored by political squabbles over personalities and I know I don’t still have the passion which has driven my politics”.

Oddest of all, perhaps, is John Woodcock, the Barrow and Furness MP, who said he would stand for re-election “but I will not countenance ever voting to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister”.

Theresa May has chosen to frame this election as a kind of Brexit referendum, on her vision of a “hard” separation from the EU, and on her – versus Corbyn’s – ability to lead the country through the messy, difficult years to come.

One theory is that this could help Labour, boosting their vote with the near half the country that voted against Brexit.

Anand Menon​, professor of European politics and foreign affairs, at King’s College London, does not buy it.

“If the whole narrative of this election is about Brexit, [Labour is] in trouble because they don’t have a narrative,” he says. “[Corbyn] wants to talk about social care, the NHS, schools, cuts, that sort of thing.”

Corbyn was never very convincing on his arguments for Remain – to the annoyance of his colleagues. And he has a pro-free-movement stance that is causing headaches for MPs who are being told on the doorstep “control immigration or piss off”, Menon says.

This week BBC radio sent a reporter into Labour – and Brexit – heartland in the north of England. They found working-class voters who professed themselves satisfied with the way May was running things, who were considering voting Tory for the first time in their lives.

Menon says this loss of the working class is not a new phenomenon for Labour.

“Across Western Europe the centre-left is getting screwed, partly because it was an unhappy coalition between metropolitan liberals and traditional working-class communities and it’s very hard to hold that together,” Menon says.

“Labour have suffered from that. From 2005 onwards the working-class vote for Labour has been in massive decline.”

That said, it’s wrong to say all Labour voters who voted Leave would switch to the Tories.

“Yes they don’t want to be in the EU, but they’ve got 100 years of family history of loathing the Tories,” says Menon. “It’s visceral, it’s emotional … The crucial thing among heartland Labour is whether they actually feel impelled to get off their arse and vote for Corbyn – I think they won’t.”

Here, again, is the unpopularity of the leader.

“The phrase du jour [among Labour MPs] is ‘I will be running a very personal, local campaign’,” says Menon.

In summary, he says, it’s not looking great for Labour.

“A lot of people out there at the moment are saying you can’t trust the polls, the polls are always wrong. The polls haven’t had it great over the past four or five years but they’ve never been wrong by the sort of margin they’d need to be wrong to see Labour win this election.”

Some of Corbyn’s grassroots supporters have come up with the wheeze of encouraging everyone to bet a tenner on a Labour win, on the theory that if the odds shorten, the media narrative will change.

It’s a long shot. But it’s a measure of the desperation, already, in Labour ranks.

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UK election: Can Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn win?

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London: “Holy is the true light, and passing wonderful.”

These words, embossed on the ceiling in bold, golden capitals, halo Jeremy Corbyn’s head as he makes his first big election campaign speech.

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The venue is Church House, a heritage-listed building tucked round the corner from Westminster Abbey. Winston Churchill was a big fan: he chose it as the alternative home for Parliament during the war. It’s the administrative headquarters of the Church of England – the general synod meets here twice a year.

On Thursday, it’s packed with another kind of true believer. In this room, today, faith trumps reason, hope conquers fear, and paradise – the Treasury bench of the House of Commons – awaits the just and the good.

The golden script on the ceiling promises it: “They inherit a home of unfading splendour, wherein they rejoice with gladness.”

Warm-up act MP Ian Lavery assures the crowd it is his great honour to introduce “the next prime minister of the United Kingdom”.

And in walks Jeremy Corbyn, grinning underneath his trim white beard.

There is a standing ovation. JC, apparently, has them believing in miracles.

Lazarus returned from the dead, and so too can Labour return from 24 per cent in the polls (the latest YouGov figure), literally half the Conservatives’ figure, in just a month and a half.

Water was turned into wine, and so too can Corbyn turn his 23 per cent approval rating – less than half his opponent’s and one of the worst of any Labour leader in history – into a ticket to Downing Street.

“We are bigger, stronger and more determined than we have ever been,” Corbyn assures the room – and the electorate on the other side of the cameras. “We will prove the establishment experts wrong and change the direction of this election.”

Those “experts” have taken a pummelling recently. But their polls project that Labour will be pummelled on June 8. The laws of statistics and probability have Labour winning fewer than half the number of seats as the Conservatives, who would have their biggest Commons majority since Margaret Thatcher’s after the 1983 election.

That was the year Thatcher rode a wave of post-Falklands popularity, against a Labour gutted by defections to the new Social Democratic Party (SDP). The Labour of 1983 had swung sharply to the left under Michael Foot, whose 39-page election manifesto was later famously dubbed – by a fellow Labour MP – “the longest suicide note in history”.

That document proposed unilateral nuclear disarmament, higher taxes for the rich, renationalisation of recently privatised bodies such as British Telecom (ironically, it also included withdrawal from the European Common Market).

Corbyn’s manifesto is expected to be significantly less radical. But his rhetoric echoes the old politics.

On Thursday the Labour leader flies a very red flag. He rails against the powerful, the “cosy club”, the “wealth extractors”, the “corrupt rule of the City and the tax dodgers”.

“It’s the establishment versus the people and it is our historic duty to make sure that the people prevail,” he says.

Cartels are hoarding wealth that belongs to the workers – the nurses, teachers, builders and carers, he says.

“I don’t play by [the establishment’s] rules. They are yesterday’s rules, set by failed political and corporate elites we should be consigning to the past.”

It’s an energetic, punchy speech, despite an oddly paced delivery that often sees him end obvious applause-bait lines with his quiet voice, rather than his “cheer now” voice.

But it’s the content rather than the delivery that raises eyebrows.

ITV’s political editor Robert Preston asks afterwards “is there anyone alive who has heard class-war rhetoric like this from a Labour leader when fighting to win a general election?”.

After Corbyn’s speech, a journalist has the temerity to ask if he’s not just a member of the “Islington elite”. The crowd boos. Corbyn hits back, smartly, pointing out his constituency has its share of poverty, social injustice and inequality.

A journalist mentions the polls and Corbyn sarcastically thanks her for bringing it up. But he’s prepared with a zinger comeback.

“All I can say is, in 2015, almost exactly two years ago, I was given 200-to-one as an outside chance,” he says.

It’s true. The crowd loves it.

Two years ago, of course, Labour was just about to go into an election under Ed Miliband, which it was projected to win or nearly win, but instead convincingly lost (leaving pollsters red-faced and apologetic for their forecasts’ failure).

The consensus among commentators in the wash-up was that Miliband had been just a little too left-wing for the electorate – though it’s interesting to note how many of his policies, such as caps on energy bills, were quietly adopted by the Conservative government.

In early June 2015 Corbyn announced he would run for leader, as an “anti-austerity” candidate. He only just managed the minimum number of nominations from his parliamentary colleagues who saw him as useful to widen the debate but never expected him to win it.

Bookmakers didn’t rate him. William Hill put him at 100-1, Ladbrokes 200-1 and Betfair an extraordinary 980-1.

But in the leadership battle that followed over the summer Corbyn defied all predictions. He was backed by trade unions who didn’t want a return to Blair-style “New Labour”, and grassroots campaigners from the anti-war and Occupy movements. It was cheap and easy to register with the party as a supporter, and many did, especially young people, excited by Corbyn’s left-field style and old-school left-wing politics, flooding social media with their enthusiasm.

Party members suspected they were being infiltrated by “entryists”, interlopers from the Socialist Party. But their complaints fell on deaf ears, especially as Corbyn packed room after room on a barnstorming campaign. In the end he won not just the most votes from Labour MPs and MEPs, but also from members of affiliated organisations such as unions, and among the registered supporters both new and old.

It felt like a breath of fresh air. There was a sense that he was a genuine political phenomenon, a cut-through, plain-speaking figure who could sell the left’s message, draw on resentment against austerity economics, and transform Westminster.

But Corbyn has never hit such heights again. His eccentric style in Parliament (he likes posing questions supplied by voters to the PM) exacerbated his unpopularity with his own parliamentary colleagues, who felt he was regularly trounced by the government in the Westminster bullring. He was forced into reshuffle after reshuffle as MPs decided they couldn’t work with him in the shadow ministry. And his popularity among potential voters dropped, month by month, until many – even within his own party – considered him unelectable​.

A wave of Labour MPs have chosen this snap election to announce their retirement. Many used age as an excuse, some say it’s time to move on. But many might have hung on if they thought they’d be on a winning team – or could say with a straight face they thought their leader would make a good prime minister.

On Thursday, former MP and longtime ally of Corbyn, Bob Marshall-Andres, revealed he had joined the Liberal Democrats, calling his former party “a political basket case” that had failed to rise to the challenge of the Brexit referendum campaign.

Middlesbrough MP Tom Blenkinsop​ said he wouldn’t stand as “I have made no secret about my significant and irreconcilable differences with the current Labour leadership”.

Slough’s Fiona MacTaggart​ said she had been “bored by political squabbles over personalities and I know I don’t still have the passion which has driven my politics”.

Oddest of all, perhaps, is John Woodcock, the Barrow and Furness MP, who said he would stand for re-election “but I will not countenance ever voting to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister”.

Theresa May has chosen to frame this election as a kind of Brexit referendum, on her vision of a “hard” separation from the EU, and on her – versus Corbyn’s – ability to lead the country through the messy, difficult years to come.

One theory is that this could help Labour, boosting their vote with the near half the country that voted against Brexit.

Anand Menon​, professor of European politics and foreign affairs, at King’s College London, does not buy it.

“If the whole narrative of this election is about Brexit, [Labour is] in trouble because they don’t have a narrative,” he says. “[Corbyn] wants to talk about social care, the NHS, schools, cuts, that sort of thing.”

Corbyn was never very convincing on his arguments for Remain – to the annoyance of his colleagues. And he has a pro-free-movement stance that is causing headaches for MPs who are being told on the doorstep “control immigration or piss off”, Menon says.

This week BBC radio sent a reporter into Labour – and Brexit – heartland in the north of England. They found working-class voters who professed themselves satisfied with the way May was running things, who were considering voting Tory for the first time in their lives.

Menon says this loss of the working class is not a new phenomenon for Labour.

“Across Western Europe the centre-left is getting screwed, partly because it was an unhappy coalition between metropolitan liberals and traditional working-class communities and it’s very hard to hold that together,” Menon says.

“Labour have suffered from that. From 2005 onwards the working-class vote for Labour has been in massive decline.”

That said, it’s wrong to say all Labour voters who voted Leave would switch to the Tories.

“Yes they don’t want to be in the EU, but they’ve got 100 years of family history of loathing the Tories,” says Menon. “It’s visceral, it’s emotional … The crucial thing among heartland Labour is whether they actually feel impelled to get off their arse and vote for Corbyn – I think they won’t.”

Here, again, is the unpopularity of the leader.

“The phrase du jour [among Labour MPs] is ‘I will be running a very personal, local campaign’,” says Menon.

In summary, he says, it’s not looking great for Labour.

“A lot of people out there at the moment are saying you can’t trust the polls, the polls are always wrong. The polls haven’t had it great over the past four or five years but they’ve never been wrong by the sort of margin they’d need to be wrong to see Labour win this election.”

Some of Corbyn’s grassroots supporters have come up with the wheeze of encouraging everyone to bet a tenner on a Labour win, on the theory that if the odds shorten, the media narrative will change.

It’s a long shot. But it’s a measure of the desperation, already, in Labour ranks.

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BP mulling sale of stakes in Canadian oil sands assets: sources

BP Plc is considering the sale of its stakes in three Canadian oil sands projects, people familiar with the matter told Reuters this week, as part of the British oil company’s strategy of retreating from noncore businesses.

BP’s 50 per cent stake in the Sunrise project near Fort McMurray in Alberta, where Husky Energy Inc owns the rest and is the operator, is the most valuable of the three assets. BP’S Sunrise stake is valued at about $810-million, based on recent transactions in the sector.

It also owns a 50 per cent stake in Pike, operated by Devon Energy Corp, which is still awaiting a final investment decision, and is majority-owner of the Terre de Grace oil sands pilot project.

A BP spokesman declined to comment. Sources declined to be named as the information is confidential.

The three projects are located in northeastern Alberta.

BP has discussed with advisers the possibility of selling the stakes, though no final decision has been made, the people added.

If the sale proceeds, BP would deploy capital in more attractive regions, such as the Permian basin in the United States, where the rate of return tends to be higher, one of the people said.

BP’s planned move comes after other global energy majors, including ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell have cut their exposure to Canada’s oil sands operations, which are among the world’s most expensive oil plays to develop.

Faced with a lower oil price environment and challenging economics, which include high cost operations and carbon taxes, global players are increasingly put off by the oil sands.

Reuters reported last week that U.S. oil producer Chevron Corp was exploring the sale of its 20 per cent stake in Canada’s Athabasca Oil Sands project, which could fetch about $2.5-billion.

BP is focusing its operations in Egypt, Azerbaijan, the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea and Trinidad in the coming years.

Husky said in February that current production at the Sunrise project is about 36,000 barrels of oil per day. It is in the process of ramping up the project to full capacity of 60,000 bpd but progress has been slower than expected and the company is drilling extra wells to try to speed up production. Husky lowered the 2017 production forecast to 40,000-44,000 bpd from 60,000 bpd.

While Husky is not keen to increase its exposure to the oil sands, it may consider buying BP’s stake if the price is attractive, two sources said.

Husky spokesman Mel Duvall declined to comment on whether the company had discussed buying BP’s stake in Sunrise.

“We take a look at everything, but we have a number of organic growth opportunities,” he added.



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Trump slams Canada as “disgrace” on dairy policy

As he signed an executive memo ordering an investigation into whether foreign steel hurts U.S. national security, President Trump took a moment to slam Canada.

“I wasn’t going to do this,” he said, but referring to his trip to Wisconsin this week, Mr. Trump said that what Canada had done to U.S. dairy farm workers was a “disgrace.” 

“The fact is, NAFTA, whether it’s Mexico or Canada, is a disaster for our country. It’s a disaster. It’s a trading disaster,” Mr. Trump said. “What happened to our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and New York State — we’re not going to let it happen. We can’t let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they do to our workers and to our farmers.”

He said lumber, timber and energy were also included in those abuses. “We’re going to have to get to the negotiating table with Canada very, very quickly,” he said.

Earlier this week, in Kenosha, Mr. Trump had promised to stand up for dairy farmers, though he didn’t explain the issue, which, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is likely a change in Canadian dairy pricing policies that undercut about 75 Wisconsin dairy farmers earlier this month. Their milk buyer dropped them suddenly over the policies, effective May 1, and the suddenness of the move gives them little time to find another buyer. As a result, many of them may be forced out of business. 

Asked whether the executive memo targeting steel dumping would affect his relationship with China, given that it’s the biggest offender, Mr. Trump replied, “This has nothing to do with China.” The dumping problem, he continued, is a “worldwide” problem. The president suggested that the report could be finished in 30-50 days, or “maybe sooner than that.”

A 1960s trade law gives the president authority to restrict imports if they are determined to be harmful to U.S. security interests. The law requires that the investigation be concluded within 270 days. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the timeline will be expedited.

U.S. prominence in the steel industry has been slipping for decades, and Mr. Trump is making some efforts to shore up the industry. He said Thursday that steel is critical to the U.S.

“Maintaining the production of American steel is extremely important to our national security and our defense industrial base,” the president said. “Steel is critical to both our economy and our military. This is not an area where we can afford to become dependent on foreign countries.”  

According to the Belgium-based World Steel Association, American-made steel once accounted for roughly 20 percent of global production, but had slipped to less than 5 percent by 2015. China made up less than 3 percent of U.S. steel imports.

Flanked by steel industry executives and union representatives, Mr. Trump signed the executive memo, and then handed the pen to the Steelworkers Union president Leo Gerard. He told reporters gathered in the Oval Office that the unions had been working closely with the administration. 

Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and Stephen Miller were also in the room for the signing. 

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