Matthew Yglesias · Thursday, April 27, 2017, 12:00 pm
A worthwhile Canadian initiative.
British Columbia’s prime minister, Christy Clark, has an idea for Canada to hit back at President Trump’s new softwood lumber tariffs in a way that microtargets his political base — banning thermal coal exports from her province’s ports.
The ports themselves are under federal jurisdiction, so it would be up to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whether to try for this action. But Clark explained during a press conference Wednesday at a paper mill and separately in a letter to Trudeau that she thinks the time is right for a move she claims to have long favored on environmental grounds. Shipping American coal through BC ports over to Asia is “not good for the environment” she explains, “but friends and trading partners cooperate.”
Now, however, “the United States is taking a different approach.”
A ban on exporting coal through Canada’s west coast ports would put a crimp in Trump’s promises to revive US coal mining employment (promises that are likely unrealistic anyway), further endear Trudeau’s government to Trump’s domestic political opponents, and likely do the environment some good. It’s also simply a reminder that Trump isn’t the only person in global politics who can play the game of threat and bluff, and that most of his opponents in said game probably have a much stronger grasp of the underlying issues.