Homewood diplomacy

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Homewood diplomacy

July 03, 2018 - 07:35
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Relations beween the U.S. and Canada, traditionally close allies, have been strained in recent months. Canada announced Sunday that it would impose $12.5 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods in retaliation for the $3.2 billion in steel tariffs imposed a month ago by the U.S.

  Eric Crump
 

Leaders of the two nations, President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, exchanged harsh words during and after the recent G-7 economic summit. The once-sweet relationship between the two nations seems to be going sour.

Homewood's not playing.

In an effort to extend a hand of friendship to Canada, Mayor Richard Hofeld issued an invitation to Trudeau on June 13, asking him to attend Homewood's Fourth of July celebration.

"The July Fourth Independence Day Parade is a Homewood tradition that celebrates the birthday of our great nation and the many great faces of our community," the invitation stated. "Please consider being part of our celebration."

The invitation didn't go through diplomatic channels, however. Canadian officials have not responded to Hofeld or to requests for comment from the Chronicle. 

But the gesture primarily was meant for the local Canadian audience.

"I'm very proud of our relationships with our Canadian partners," Hofeld said. "We are happy to have them here."

He said the invitation was intended to show respect and support for those partners. Homewood is home to Canadian National Railway's U.S. headquarters and training facility. Company and village officials agree it's a mutually beneficial partnership. 

A CN spokesman declined to comment on the mayor's gesture, but at the village's economic development breakfast in April, John Orr, CN senior vice president of operations, was the keynote speaker and had glowing words for the village and its leaders, noting that the community's diversity and stability made it a great place for CN's operations.

Another prominent Canadian in Homewood's business community is Claude Gendreau, who owns Ravisloe Country Club and La Banque Hotel. 

Gendreau appreciated the gesture.

"The mayor did show me the invitation he sent to Justin Trudeau, in which he emphasized the growing importance of CN to the economy of Homewood," he said in an email to the Chronicle. "I certainly was impressed by the mayor's initiative, his imaginative ways to promote Homewood."

Another prominent Canadian in Homewood is Kate Duff, manager of the village's farmers market. She found Hofeld's invitation reassuring.

"It reaffirms my belief that most Americans know and appreciate the long and friendly history between Canada and the U.S.," she said. 

She said the trade conflict seems short-sighted. 

It certainly has hit home for the Chronicle partners. A relatively new tariff on paper imported from Canada pushed printing prices up several months ago. In order to avoid raising rates for our advertisers, we found a printer that could offer us a better price on our monthly print edition.

We have confidence our new printer will do a great job for us and for our readers, but the switch means a small business in a neighboring community has one less customer, which we regret.

World trade is a complex system that I don't pretend to understand, but from what I've read about the unfolding conflict between the U.S. and its long-time trading partners, a trade war is one in which the instigator begins by inflicting casualties on its own side. 

I can't help but think there are better ways to address trade imbalances.