Strategy or Manipulation?

Actually it’s both. One’s just a means to the other’s end.

Screen capture of Canadian National News provider

Donald Trump didn’t become a billionaire without strategy.

Donald Trump didn’t become President of the United States without strategy.

So why would we think he would stop now? The short answer is he won’t which means we have to be diligent and when something hits the news, we need to “think backwards and forwards”. Think about the strategy.

I have had a number of people tell me “you’re Canadian so why are you getting involved. It’s not even your country.” The announcement about job losses in the Canadian Automotive Manufacturing sector (I believe) are a clear example of why I stay engaged and will continue to comment.

Indulge me for a minute and let me use some recent occurrences to “suggest” how the yesterdays announcement of 625 Automotive jobs moving to Mexico is part of a brilliant “strategy”.

We are all aware of Trump’s desire to renegotiate or event invoke article 2205 to withdraw from NAFTA. Since announcing this as part of his election platform on June 2016, what this would mean for Canada has been a highly contested topic of conversation.

Let’s keep in mind that NAFTA is a trade agreement between Canada, USA and Mexico.

My belief is that while Trump would like to renegotiate with Canada and Mexico, Mexico is clearly the target. Between the “Wall”, the threat of “deportation” and the desire to eliminate “Sanctuary Cities” — Canada is merely collateral damage, not the target.

Canada’s resistance to ratifying NAFTA would create a scenario of “two against one”. While even a unified defiance between Canada and Mexico would not have the power to stop the “Trump Machine”, public opinion and pressure on government could slow down or even change the outcome of the negotiations. Remember, politicians need to retain their popularity among the people it governs to remain strong.

So how do you shift public opinion (in this case Canadian) in one news cycle? Enlist one of the most vocal and potentially at risk sectors of the economy. Piss off a Union and in this case, the Autoworkers Union.

4 days ago, Trump met with the big 3 automakers.

Today, GM announced that (out of the blue) it would eliminate 625 jobs in a rural community in Ontario and to add insult to injury — the jobs were going to Mexico where labour is cheaper.

First — 4 days after Trump meets with GM they announce moving Canadian Autoworker jobs to Mexico. Coincidence? I wasn’t in the meeting but I could see Trump or one of his staff quietly saying to GM “hey…any chance you could take a modest swipe at Canada to help get them on board?”

Second — The announcement that GM was cutting Canadian jobs came on a Friday. Coincidence? Personal experience and a healthy dose of Aaron Sorkin’s writing on the West Wing gives me a bit of insight on “News Cycles”. Be the top story on a Friday and chances are you’ll be the topic of conversation all weekend.

Third — Hit the Auto Industry. Coincidence? While NAFTA impacts Wheat, Dairy, Produce and hundreds of other categories, would losing 600 chicken farmers generate the same amount of press? I don’t think anyone will dispute the fact that Automotive is the most contentious category under NAFTA.

Fourth — 625 Canadian Jobs. In the grand scheme of things (and please do not take this as a lack of empathy for the community of Ingersol Ontario) it’s only 625 jobs. Even if we use the unions own data that for every single Automotive manufacturing job, 7 other jobs are dependent then the maximum impact is 4,375. In a country of 30,000,000, what does the loss of 4,375 jobs really impact. The answer is .o15 of 1 percent and while this was not mentioned, many will probably get early retirement, packaged out or even jobs elsewhere. These people are not being eliminated, just their current job is.

Fifth — “jobs going to Mexico where labour is cheaper”. Holy crap — is labour cheaper in Mexico? Next you’ll be telling me smoking is bad for me. The point is that Mexico is the target so what a great way to get maximum bang for your “news cycle buck”.

I have no proof of this but if I were Trump or part of his team and I was going to devise a strategy to swing public opinion in my favour in a country worried about the impact changing NAFTA will have on me I’d;

  • Hit that country’s most vocal and concerned employment sector
  • I’d hit them on a Friday to be top-of-mind for 3 days
  • I’d make the hit economically small (as to not completely piss off that country’s ruling party) but huge from a public opinion perspective
  • I’d make sure the losses were not blamed on a huge U.S. owned automaker, but rather those godless Mexicans

My hat’s off to Trump and his team.

Brilliant Strategy.

Unfortunately it is also another blatant example of how your strategy is to manipulate things in favour of your agenda.

My hope is people will continue to see you for what you are and not be overwhelmed by the rhetoric.

My fear is we won’t.