Stand with Mexico or Donald Trump will turn on Canada, says former Mexican congressman

Click to play video 'Peace and prosperity on the line for North America: Barrios Gomez' Peace and prosperity on the line for North America: Barrios Gomez
WATCH ABOVE: Former Mexican congressman and Founder of the Mexico Council of Foreign Relations Agustin Barrios Gomez tells Vassy Kapelos the dispute between Mexico and the U.S. is no longer just about NAFTA and the Trump administration is woefully ill-equipped to deal with foreign relations – Jan 29, 2017

It’s a matter of time before U.S. President Donald Trump turns on Canada, which is why Canada must stand in solidarity with Mexico, says a former Mexican congressmen.

“My advice to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is basically to stand on principle,” said Agustin Barrios Gomez, who is also the founding member of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations.

“I think he needs to be very clear about what Canadian values are … And one of those Canadian values is solidarity with like-minded, important countries, because of course peace and prosperity in the entire continent are on the line.”

READ MORE: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto cancels trip to White House in wake of Donald Trump border wall comments

Barrios Gomez was interviewed on The West Block in the days following Trump’s executive orders to build the wall between the U.S. and Mexico, as he promised during his campaign.

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Another promise Trump made was to either renegotiate or dump the North American Free Trade Agreement, the trilateral trade pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

The president has made little mention of Canada, though one of his advisers told the Liberal cabinet last week the negotiations will pose little risk to the Canadian economy.

WATCH: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Congress is moving ahead with the $12 to $15 billion dollar border wall with Mexico. 
Click to play video 'Congress moving ahead with $12 to $15 billion border wall with Mexico' Congress moving ahead with $12 to $15 billion border wall with Mexico
Congress moving ahead with $12 to $15 billion border wall with Mexico – Jan 26, 2017

But Canada’s ambassador to the United States, David McNaughton, has said Canada needs to keep its guard up – that Canada could become collateral damage in Trump’s attempts to target Mexico’s trade.

To that end, McNaughton said Canada will cooperate on trilateral trade talks when doing so is in its interest, but also look to bilateral talks if that is in the country’s interests.

“That’s sort of the Neville Chamberlain approach,” Barrios Gomez said, a reference to the British prime minister’s famous appeasement foreign policy, particularly toward Adolf Hitler’s Germany.

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READ MORE: Mexican president flat-out refuses to pay for Trump’s wall

“That’s silly. That’s not the way that [the Trump] administration works. If you spend a few minutes analyzing how this leadership style works, appeasement is pretty much the worst thing you can do …  And so to try to appease these characters is counter-productive. It’s just a matter of time before he’s going to turn around against Canada.”

The 23-year-old NAFTA pact is vital to maintaining the prosperity and function of the entire continent, Barrios Gomez said.

But Trump appears unyielding in his quest to target Mexico, signing his orders to build the border wall and somehow force Mexico to pay for the infrastructure.

READ MORE: US-Mexico fence costs $10 million per mile in parts but a wall will cost more

“I think the American president, in his strange style which is, quite frankly, unhinged, I think he came up with this as a campaign promise and has no idea how he’s going to pull it off,” Barrios Gomez said.

Earlier this week, the president’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, floated the idea of imposing a 20 per cent tariff on Mexican imports to help pay for the wall.

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WATCH: Aboard Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump is considering a 20 per cent tax on imports from Mexico to pay for the border wall.

Click to play video 'Trump considering 20% tax on imports from Mexico to pay for the wall' Trump considering 20% tax on imports from Mexico to pay for the wall
Trump considering 20% tax on imports from Mexico to pay for the wall – Jan 26, 2017

“You can’t discriminate a tax against a country like that without running up against not only NAFTA rules, but also World Trade Organization rules,” Barrios Gomez said.

Following Spicer’s import tax statement, Nobel Award-winning economist Paul Krugman explained on Twitter exactly why such an idea is untenable.

“International trade policy is governed by rules,” he wrote. “A key part of these rules is that countries agree not to just impose new tariffs or import quotas unilaterally. So if the U.S. just goes ahead and imposes a 20 per cent tariff on Mexico, it has in effect repudiated the whole system.”

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Tune into The West Block this Sunday on Global TV to see the full interview with Agustin Barrios Gomez.

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