NAFTA Questions for Obama

Taylor Marsh notes today that Union officials in Ohio has some questions for Barack Obama in the wake of the CTV story about Obama and NAFTA. Taylor says, “Evidently, the CTV story out of Canada, especially the part where they name a top Obama aide, has some union officials wanting answers from Senator Obama.”  

Taylor received the following letter “late afternoon Saturday from a good source in Ohio” and she notes that “Mark Halperin has also posted on it”:

March 1, 2008

Dear Senator Obama:

We were surprised and disappointed to learn that your top economic adviser reportedly had a secret meeting with a representative of the Canadian government where he dismissed your anti-NAFTA rhetoric.

According to Canadian news outlets, your adviser, Austan Goolsbee, told the Canadian Counsel General Georges Rioux that your criticism of NAFTA is “just politics” and should not be taken seriously.

After a series of misdirections and half-truths, it’s time for you to come clean about your campaign’s communications with the Canadian government about NAFTA. Enough with the non-denial denials and the Washington double-speak.

Many Ohioans are concerned about the issue of trade and we want answers to some simple questions:

1) Did you direct your top economic adviser – Austan Goolsbee – to tell the Canadian government that your speeches railing against NAFTA are just political rhetoric? If so, why?

2) Are you aware that Mr. Goolsbee held a secret meeting with the Canadian Counsel General Georges Rioux? Have you spoken with Mr. Goolsbee about that meeting and will you repudiate his comments?

3) Why has Mr. Goolsbee been unwilling to deny that he discussed your positions on NAFTA with Mr. Rioux? Why won’t your campaign disclose the full details about that meeting?

4) Given these reports, why should Ohioans believe that you will act on the campaign promises you have made about NAFTA?

5) Sen. Clinton has issued a comprehensive plan to fix NAFTA. Why haven’t you done so as well?

The people of Ohio are eager to hear from you – there’s too much at stake.


Gary Dwyer, Secretary-Treasurer, Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council

Barry Pickett, Business Representative, Sheet Metal Workers International Association, Local 24

Note that the union officials in Ohio have pointed out that “Sen. Clinton has issued a comprehensive plan to fix NAFTA.” Obama has not.

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About Pamela Leavey

Pamela Leavey is the Editor in Chief, Owner/Publisher of The Democratic Daily as well as a freelance writer and photographer. Pamela holds a certificate in Contemporary Communications from UMass Lowell, a Journalism Certificate from UMass Amherst and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Digital Age Communications from UMass Amherst UWW.
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7 Responses to NAFTA Questions for Obama

  1. steve cohn says:

    Im not sure why a meeting would take place as Obama has been quoted since 2004 his feelings about NAFTA…

    From the web…..
    Fact Check on Inaccurate Reports Regarding Obama’s Position on NAFTA and Canada
    February 28, 2008

    Canadian Embassy Has Denied The Report. “A spokesman for the Canadian Embassy to the United States, Tristan Landry, flatly denied the CTV report that a senior Obama aide had told the Canadian ambassador not to take seriously Obama’s denunciations of Nafta. ‘None of the presidential campaigns have called either the Ambassador or any of the officials here to raise Nafta,’ Landry said. He said there had been no conversations at all on the subject. ‘We didn’t make any calls, they didn’t call us,’ Landry said. ‘There is no story as far as we’re concerned,’ he said.”


    I will make sure that we renegotiate…I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced. And that is not what has been happening so far. That is something that I have been consistent about. I have to say, Tim, with respect to my position on this, when I ran for the United States Senate, the Chicago Tribune, which was adamantly pro-NAFTA, noted that, in their endorsement of me, they were endorsing me despite my strong opposition to NAFTA…And as president, what I want to be is an advocate on behalf of workers. Look, you know, when I go to these plants, I meet people who are proud of their jobs. They are proud of the products that they’ve created. They have built brands and profits for their companies. And when they see jobs shipped overseas and suddenly they are left not just without a job, but without health care, without a pension, and are having to look for seven-buck-an-hour jobs at the local fast-food joint, that is devastating on them, but it’s also devastating on the community. That’s not the way that we’re going to prosper as we move forward. [Democratic Debate, 2/27/08]


    Obama Said NAFTA And CAFTA Were Not In The Best Interest Of The American Worker “Because They Did Not Contain The Sorts Of Labor Provisions And Environmental Provisions” That They Should Have. “The AP reported, “Obama said he supports the foreign trade deal, which is especially important to labor and U.S. manufacturers. He said active trading is a key way to keep the United States competitive. ‘We’re not going to draw a moat around the United States’ economy. If we do that, then China is still trading, India is still going to be trading,’ said Obama, who voted against the recent Central American Free Trade Agreement and opposes the pending trade deal with South Korea. ‘I think that NAFTA and CAFTA did not reflect the interests of American workers but reflected the interests of the stock owners on Wall Street, because they did not contain the sorts of labor provisions and environmental provisions that should have been embedded and should have been enforceable in those agreements,’ he said.” [AP, 10/10/07]

    2004 Chicago Tribune Cited Its Difference With Obama’s Opposition to NAFTA. The Chicago Tribune wrote in an editorial, “We sharply differ with some of those views, particularly Obama’s opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement.” [Chicago Tribune, 2/29/04]

    2004 New Yorker: Obama Opposed NAFTA. The New Yorker wrote, “This is a regular theme with Obama: supporters who disagree with him. The two big Chicago daily papers both endorsed him enthusiastically in the primary, even though they disagreed with him on major issues-his opposition to the war in Iraq and, in the case of the Tribune, his opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement.” [New Yorker, 5/31/04]

  2. Steve

    See the Comment Policy above: “Please include a link when quoting news in the comments. DO NOT POST FULL ARTICLES.” In the future comments without links will be moderated.

  3. Steve Cohn says:

    Sorry Pamela..
    It’s from the “Check the Facts” section of Obama’s website. I tried to just paste the non-Obama comments from 3rd parties (newspapers, etc).

  4. Steve: What I haven’t heard from Sen. Obama is how he proposes to get the sort of Third World economic development that it is being promised that NAFTA style trade deals will create. We’ve got Billions of brothers and sisters out there living in poverty.

  5. Steve

    One of the problems we have is that Clinton and Obama’s Fact Check websites contradict each other. My earlier piece on NAFTA showed that Clintonhas not made statements that Obama is claiming – that I garnered from, I believe.

  6. Pingback: The Democratic Daily

  7. msdmo says:

    Why would CANADA, attempt to interfere with the American electoral process? Has an outside government ever leaked internal documents leveling accusations against a US presidential front-runner?

    This odd un-Canadian-like behavior caused me to pause and look for beneficiaries. It quickly became obvious that the Conservative Party of Canada would probably love to help President Bush extend his Conservative hold on the White House. Hon. Michael Wilson – Canadian Ambassador to the US just may have his fingerprints all over this story, which explains the confidence of CTV when they aired (3x) such an explosive story. This is no doubt why CTV was adamant about the Goolsbee statements being made directly to Ambassador Wilson. I quote “The facts of the story are accurate and CTV National News will be reporting on the story again tonight,” said CTV vice president Wendy Freeman.

    Upon being summoned to the local Canadian consulate office in Chicago, Goolsbee of the Obama camp finds himself in the center of he said he said.

    OHIO here’s a few hard facts to help you make an informed decision.
    The Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Wilson helped author and negotiate the U.S. – Canada Free Trade Agreement [FTA] of 1988 and the National Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] of 1994. Since 1979 the Ambassador has been a high ranking member of the Canadian Conservative party, and was nicely rewarded when he was named co-chair of the National Canadian Conservative Party campaign in 2006.