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In a world economy reshaped by a virus, the new North American trade deal takes effect –



As negotiators shook hands on the revised North American free trade agreement, they couldn’t have foreseen the fundamental upheaval their countries would soon be facing thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the Trudeau government is looking to celebrate something this Canada Day, it may be the relative security of the status quo that was more or less preserved in the talks.

“Bullet dodged” — that’s how Brett House, Scotiabank’s deputy chief economist, summed things up for CBC News last weekend.

“Sometimes,” he said, “the biggest victories are the bad things prevented, rather than new things built.”

Unlike Canada’s original trade deals with the U.S. and the other major trade deals the Trudeau government has implemented with European and Pacific Rim partners, the new NAFTA doesn’t substantially liberalize more trade. Most North American tariffs had been eliminated already.

The new automotive chapter, in contrast, adds more protectionism by requiring manufacturers to use more local components and higher labour standards to avoid tariffs.

When Global Affairs released its economic impact study for the new agreement last winter, it was criticized for basing its comparisons not on the terms of the original NAFTA but a hypothetically devastating scenario in which President Donald Trump completely pulled the plug on preferential trade with Canada.

How likely was that? Opinions still vary as to whether the Trudeau government had any real alternative to going along with the renegotiation.

As last week’s threat to reimpose aluminum tariffs suggests, this White House remains unpredictable and, sometimes, unthinkable, even in the face of strong economic arguments about the value of free trade with one’s neighbours.

‘Negative on balance’

In attempting to modernize NAFTA for the 21st century, did negotiators meet the standard of “first, do no harm”?

In a paper released Tuesday by the C.D. Howe Institute, consultant trade economist Dan Ciuriak revisited the economic modelling done by the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. International Trade Commission and Global Affairs Canada, as well as his own figures, and tried to make sense of how things look now — amid the chaos of a pandemic that’s disrupted international supply chains, shut down all but essential cross-border travel and introduced a new public health rationale for constricting trade on national security grounds.

“There are many sources of uncertainty that at present do not lend themselves to a robust quantification,” his summary concludes. “The known knowns promise to be negative on balance; as for the known unknowns, time will tell.”

“Just as companies were starting to prepare and think about [NAFTA implementation], COVID came,” said Brian Kingston, outgoing vice-president responsible for trade issues at the Business Council of Canada.

“Their focus is turned 100 per cent to survival and making sure that they can get through this pandemic intact.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump arrive to take part in a plenary session at the NATO Summit in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, on Dec. 4, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Despite the pandemic (or perhaps to distract from it), Trump demanded a June 1 implementation date. When he couldn’t get that, he insisted on a July 1 implementation, to make sure a done deal was ready to campaign on this fall.

Rather than risk more punishment and political grief by stalling, Canada and Mexico agreed, paving the way for the Canada Day starting line.

For Canada, starting in July instead of August is very expensive for its dairy sector — and perhaps for the taxpayers who ultimately will compensate farmers for it. The dairy fiscal year begins in August, and since NAFTA concessions ramp up at the start of each new dairy year, that ramp is steeper with this timing.

One innovation in the original NAFTA now begins to vanish from the corporate toolkit: the investor-state dispute system (ISDS), which let companies bypass regular courts and challenge the regulatory decisions of Canadian governments directly through NAFTA arbitration (ISDS is also referred to by its location in the original text: “Chapter 11”).

The ability of multinationals to seek millions in damages in such lawsuits “was always something that critics of the original NAFTA deal hated,” said cross-border trade lawyer Mark Warner. “So that’s a pretty big change.”

Other changes businesses need to adapt to, like the copyright changes in the intellectual property chapter, are “largely a wash,” Warner said.

Bumpy road for carmakers

The new NAFTA’s uniform regulations for automotive manufacturing have only been out for a couple of weeks — during a time when carmakers have been preoccupied with reviving their supply chains and factories from the relative coma of this spring’s lockdown.

“Without COVID, this would have been the most important issue facing that most important industry, and now this is probably a distant second,” said Warner.

“I don’t think anyone in auto … has really had time to concentrate the mind on [the new NAFTA] coming into effect. I think we’re going to see a delayed reaction that plays out over time.”

Will the revised agreement eventually fulfil Trump’s pledge of returning more automotive jobs and investment to the U.S. (and Canada)? Or will manufacturers opt to comply by paying Mexican workers more, as some Japanese facilities are already signalling? Could some skip NAFTA compliance altogether?

Trade law professor Elizabeth Trujillo from the University of Houston said that while the new labour provisions are consistent with the populist values of Mexico’s current president, complete compliance with new labour standards on the Mexican side is “unlikely.”

“Will that be enforced? If it is, what does that mean? More tariffs?” she said.

It’s now possible for claims of labour violations to be pursued against Mexico under NAFTA’s now-revised state-to-state dispute resolution process.

“The more likely scenario is that a lot of these manufacturers will just not use the new NAFTA … they’ll work outside of it,” Trujillo said. “Just pay what they have to pay [in tariffs] and not have to adjust their way of doing things to the new rules.”

As it reworks its supply chain strategy, Mexico may collaborate with other countries — especially other Latin American countries that also have free trade agreements with the U.S., like Colombia, she said.

Trade professor Meredith Lilly of Carleton University, a former adviser to Stephen Harper’s government, predicts “real bumps” ahead as this sector transitions to the new rules while trying to remain globally competitive.

“Over the long term, eventually the price of cars is going to go up,” she said, pointing out that North American components and labour will be more expensive.

De minimis, dairy changes kick in

Not every sector faces as many new rules as the automotive industry. For regular consumers, changes attributable to NAFTA may be almost undetectable.

“The biggest win is that Canadians won’t see a lot of change,” Kingston said. “The less that we see is actually a sign that the agreement is working as planned.”

There are a few small consumer gains.

With online shopping and shipping more popular than ever, goods shipped from by U.S. by courier services no longer face customs duties if they’re valued under $150, and won’t incur sales taxes if they’re worth less than $40. If purchases are shipped by mail, however, the previous threshold of $20 will still apply.

Dairy cows walk in a pasture at Nicomekl Farms, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday August 30, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

While the market access conceded to the U.S. for supply-managed agricultural products like dairy, eggs and poultry should, in theory, spur more competitive pricing and add more choice to store shelves, it’s not a given that will happen.

The pandemic has dramatically disrupted food supplies and prices, which might make any concurrent NAFTA changes hard to spot.

The new licences to import American products will also be given mostly to Canadian processors, not retailers — something the Americans have threatened to fight because they don’t trust Canada’s domestic industry to deliver the market share promised to U.S. farmers.

Sour relations

While the implementation of the new NAFTA could have been an opportunity to relaunch Canada-U.S. trade relations with a more positive attitude, Lilly said she fears this opportunity has been lost. Instead, the pandemic has left Canadians with a bad taste in their mouths about their neighbours.

The Trump administration’s attempt to prevent 3M from shipping N95 masks to Canada is an example of how there’s “no loyalty and no love lost” between the partners in the North American trading bloc right now, she said.

“It’s caused Canadians to reflect a great deal,” she said, adding she worries the Trudeau government’s ambitions for diversified trade aren’t shared by the general public.

Hassan Yussuff, the president of the Canadian Labour Council who also served on Canada’s NAFTA advisory council during the negotiations, said he hopes the deal brings positive changes to the lives of working people in Mexico. He said he also hopes the new NAFTA regulations, in turn, will make employers think twice about leaving Canada in the first place — easing the resentment workers felt about the original NAFTA deal.

COVID-19 is prompting countries to re-examine how far they have pushed the envelope on international trade, and to revisit the idea of making certain things at home, he said.

“We cannot be this vulnerable,” Yussuff said. And even if there is a new president in the White House after November, he added, domestic political pressures will remain.

“Americans always act in their own self-interest. We should not think we’re special. We have to be vigilant, and get used to this.”

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Americans' Aversion to Mask-Wearing Is Holding Back the Economy – BNN



(Bloomberg) — The aversion of many Americans to wearing a thin piece of cloth across their faces is restraining an already-shaky economic rebound.

In Texas, the second most-populous state and a hotspot of the resurgent Covid-19, Republican Governor Greg Abbott on July 2 ordered mask-wearing in a reversal of his earlier opposition to enforcement. He said on local television this week that face coverings will prevent “having our economy shut down again.”

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan said Friday that U.S. growth would be faster if all Americans wore masks. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates a national mask mandate could prevent the U.S. from losing almost 5% of its gross domestic product.

Yet millions of Americans — especially Republicans — have been reluctant to embrace masks, with President Donald Trump himself resistant. That’s in contrast with Democratic opponent Joe Biden, who typically dons a black covering in public appearances. Gallup polling in late June showed 98% of Democrats said they wore a mask outside home during the past week, compared with 66% of Republicans and 85% of independents.

Adding to the confusion, medical experts have sent mixed messages about when and how masks should be worn. While the World Health Organization has recommended masks in general, it said last month that there’s “no direct evidence” on the effectiveness of mass mask-wearing among healthy people. Other health officials say that while a mask won’t protect the person wearing it, it can help stop sick people from infecting others.

Read more:

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  • Charting the Global Economy: Recovery Afoot at Varying Paces
  • U.S. Jobless Claims Fall While Corporate Cuts Signal More Pain
  • Biden Crafts Jobs Plan as He Tries to Negate a Rare Trump Edge

The politics may be shifting as some policy makers try to avoid more shutdowns. In Arizona, Republican Governor Doug Ducey was initially reluctant about masks and hesitant to let local officials in his state impose rules requiring them. But in recent weeks, as the number of coronavirus cases swelled in the battleground state, Ducey has encouraged everyone to wear a mask.

Without measures like mask-wearing to reduce the opportunity to spread the virus, the health and economic consequences will worsen, said Eric Toner, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “And we will have no choice but eventually to lock things down again, which would be devastating to the economy,” he said.

Enforcement Questions

But as major corporations lobby for a federal mask mandate, questions of enforcement remain. In places that have already mandated masks, making that happen in practice has largely fallen on the heads of businesspeople like Tina Yake, owner of The Wooden Spoon restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas.

Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, ordered mask-wearing last week but counties were allowed to opt out and enforcement was left to local authorities. Johnson County, where The Wooden Spoon is located, went along with the mandate; the area includes the Kansas City suburbs along the state’s border with Missouri.

Yake said initially the restaurant put up a sign telling customers to check in at the front and wear a mask. “Those that didn’t want to wear a mask or check in, would leave in a huff,” she said in an email. The restaurant ended up adding a second, and then a third, sign with a neon pink border, as well as posting on social media that masks are required.

Despite some customers getting angry at the mask policies, Yake said the restaurant hasn’t faced adverse effects, and the requirement may even be helping business. “We have been congratulated and thanked for taking a stand on the mask issue and doing everything we can to keep our customers and staff safe,” she said in the email.

The opposite appears to have happened for The Grille at Flower Hill, a restaurant in Gaithersburg, Maryland, outside Washington. The establishment closed indefinitely after its owner received death threats over his refusal to follow the state order requiring masks for staff, according to local publication Bethesda Beat. The restaurant owner could not be reached for comment.

‘Vitally Important’

Alan Cobb, president of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, called measures including face masks and social distancing “vitally important,” but brought up concerns.

“It should not be the responsibility of businesses to enforce mask mandates,” he said in a statement, adding that state and local governments should be clear on what is required for businesses.

Davis Senseman, a Minneapolis attorney who has consulted with small businesses on face-mask enforcement, said government regulations are a “floor” and businesses can put in place more safety measures that customers tend to appreciate.

Senseman likens face-mask requirements to the signs in some businesses warning: “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”

“That has helped a lot of business owners realize, ‘Oh yeah, I’m not asking you to do much. I’m asking you to have a shirt on, I’m asking you to have shoes on and to put on a mask,’” Senseman said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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The week in COVID-19: B.C. economy improving, but new community cases show virus fight far from over –



British Columbia’s economy is showing glimmers of recovery, but new community cases of COVID-19 show it’s far too early to relax, said B.C.’s top doctor this week.

“We’ve seen elsewhere around the world, including the United States and other places, that things can quickly escalate once again if we let our guard down,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday.

The week saw positive cases pop up at multiple Vancouver nightclubs, a Burnaby fitness club, a McDonald’s in Surrey and a Vancouver 7-Eleven store.

On Friday, the province reported 25 new cases, the biggest one-day jump since May 8. On Thursday, an additional 20 new cases were reported. 

This week B.C.’s total COVID-19 case count also passed the 3,000 mark, reaching 3,053 cases by the end of the week.

As of Friday, there were 187 active cases in the province, with 16 people currently in hospital and five in intensive care. A total of 2,679 people who tested positive have recovered.

The province is also looking into whether nightclubs are following provincial rules after two strip clubs, No5 Orange and Brandi’s, as well as Hotel Belmont, showed positive cases, but officials were unable to contact everyone who had visited. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Because the disease is still circulating, Henry emphasized, everyone must keep up prevention measures such as physical distancing and wearing masks until a treatment or vaccine is available. 

The province is also looking into whether nightclubs are following provincial rules after two strip clubs, No5 Orange and Brandi’s, as well as Hotel Belmont, showed positive cases, but officials were unable to contact everyone who had visited the clubs.

Tracking tests

Henry also said the province is still working to identify a reliable antibody test to determine how many people have been infected and recovered without ever testing positive for COVID-19.

The tests have been problematic, she explained, with a high prevalence of both false positive and false negative results. As a result, the province is using different tests to validate any positives.

“The bottom line from what I’ve seen so far is it reflects what we have seen here in British Columbia, that very few people have become affected at a population level,” she said, promising more detailed information next week.

‘A picture of cautious optimism’

At the same time, the B.C. economy is showing gradual signs of recovery. According to new data released by Statistics Canada, the province’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.4 per cent in June after rising for three months straight.

It now sits at 13 per cent, with the number of people employed in B.C. rising by 118,000 in June, after an increase of 43,000 in May.

Speaking at a Friday morning news conference, Finance Minister Carole James said the data “paints a picture of cautious optimism, with a long road ahead.”

James said the gains bring back roughly 40 per cent of the jobs that had been lost since February. The total net job losses from the COVID-19 pandemic are approximately 235,000 in B.C.

Closed for business

Speaking of long roads ahead, a growing number of people in B.C. are heading out on vacation — but some B.C. Indigenous communities are expressing concerns over the possible arrival of COVID-19 along with summer travelers.

This week the Lower Similkameen Indian Band closed the Chopaka Bridge Beach, a private beach on reserve land that’s popular with tourists.

“This year with pandemic happening and everything that’s going on in the States, we have a lot of U.S. travelers that end up stopping at this beach,” said Chief Keith Crow on Daybreak South. “It’s time to keep our members safe.”

Chopaka Bridge Beach near Osoyoos in southern B.C. is now closed to the general public. (Submitted by Keith Crow)

Meanwhile a luxury fishing lodge on Haida Gwaii says it plans to reopen this weekend despite a state of emergency issued by the Haida Nation as a result of the pandemic.

Queen Charlotte Safaris president Paul Clough says the lodge is 45 kilometres from the nearest community and complies with all orders and guidelines issued by the province and WorkSafe BC.

However in a statement the Council of the Haida Nation said the protection of its communities is paramount.

“These are our lands and waters,” said Chief Councillor Duffy Edgars of the Old Massett Village. “We will decide when it’s time to open back up to visitors, and until that invitation is open, Haida Gwaii is closed to all non-essential travel and non-residents.”

A group of Haida matriarchs also vowed to occupy two ancient villages on Haida Gwaii in protest.

No Infections From Protests

Anti-racism protests have drawn thousands of people across B.C. but this week Henry also confirmed that the province has not seen any cases of COVID-19 that are linked to the protests, the largest of which took place June 5 and June 19.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said public health officials in other parts of North America have reported similar results.

Thousands of people have gathered for anti-racism protests in B.C. in recent weeks, but no COVID-19 cases have been linked to the marches. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

“We follow up every single case here in B.C.,” Henry said. “The short answer is no … currently we do not have any cases that have been associated with the protests that took place.”

Henry emphasized that infections were likely prevented because people were outside, and most tried to keep their distance and wore masks.

But Henry said officials in the U.S. have connected virus transmission to other large outdoor gatherings — particularly parties on the beach.

“That was surprising,” she said. “Many of us thought there would be a similar risk.”

Long-Term Improvement

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed serious flaws with B.C.’s long-term care system, says health officials, and during the Thursday briefing this week, Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said that big changes are needed.

“What this pandemic has absolutely exposed is the vulnerabilities in many of our long-term care homes,” Henry said.

Graham Drew, 96, father of Deanna Harlow and Debbie Drew tested positive for COVID-19 while at the Lynn Valley Care Centre. (Debbie Drew)

The comments come as B.C. begins opening up long-term care facilities to some non-essential visitors after months of isolation for residents, and a rising tide of complaints from families with loved ones in hard-hit care homes.

Dix said the “fundamental challenge” will be to shift priorities so extending people’s lives isn’t the sole focus.

“We have to allow people to live life. This has been the profound contradiction and it’s why restoring visits was so important,” he said.

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Reality check: A look at Trump’s claims on coronavirus, the U.S. economy and Biden –



If saying things 100 times could make them true, U.S. President Donald Trump‘s account of how the U.S. is doing with the coronavirus would be true.

COVID-19 testing would be the envy of the world, the economy would be on the cusp of roaring back, the threat would be receding in a pandemic that has sickened more than 3.1 million Americans and killed more than 133,000.

But repetition doesn’t make for reality. The U.S. is taking a disproportionate hit from the coronavirus globally and does not have it under control.

Read more:
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A look at how rhetoric from the past week compares with the facts on various fronts:


TRUMP: “For the 1/100th time, the reason we show so many Cases, compared to other countries that haven’t done nearly as well as we have, is that our TESTING is much bigger and better. We have tested 40,000,000 people. If we did 20,000,000 instead, Cases would be half, etc. NOT REPORTED!” — tweet Thursday.

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THE FACTS: His notion that infections are high only because the U.S. diagnostic testing has increased is false. His own top public health officials have shot down this line of thinking. Infections are rising because people are infecting each other more than they were when most everyone was hunkered down.

Trump calls Biden a ‘puppet’ of socialism

Trump calls Biden a ‘puppet’ of socialism

It’s true that increased testing also contributes to the higher numbers. When you look harder, you’re going to see more. But the testing has uncovered a worrisome trend: The percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is on the rise across nearly the entire country.

That’s a clear demonstration that sickness is spreading and that the U.S. testing system is falling short.

Read more:
Coronavirus: U.S. sets single-day record with 60,000 new cases of COVID-19

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“A high rate of positive tests indicates a government is only testing the sickest patients who seek out medical attention and is not casting a wide enough net,” says the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, a primary source of updated information on the pandemic.

Americans are being confronted with long lines at testing sites, often disqualified if they are not showing symptoms and, if tested, forced to wait many days for results.


TRUMP on the coronavirus: “We have the lowest Mortality Rate in the World.” — tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: This statement is wholly unsupported.

An accurate death rate is impossible to know. Every country tests and counts people differently, and some are unreliable in reporting cases. Without knowing the true number of people who become infected, it cannot be determined what portion of them die.

Using a count kept by Johns Hopkins University, you can compare the number of recorded deaths with the number of reported cases. That count shows the U.S. experiencing more deaths as a percentage of cases than most other countries now being hit hard with the pandemic. The statistics look better for the U.S. when the list is expanded to include European countries that were slammed early on by the virus but now appear to have it under control. Even then, the U.S. is not shown to be among the best in avoiding death.

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Such calculations, though, do not provide a reliable measurement of actual death rates, because of the variations in testing and reporting, and the Johns Hopkins tally is not meant to be such a measure.

Coronavirus: Top health official in Tulsa says Trump rally likely ‘contributed’ to COVID-19 spike

Coronavirus: Top health official in Tulsa says Trump rally likely ‘contributed’ to COVID-19 spike

The only way to tell how many cases have gone uncounted, and therefore what percentage of infected people have died from the disease, is to do another kind of test comprehensively, of people’s blood, to find how many people bear immune system antibodies to the virus. Globally, that is only being done in select places.


TRUMP: “Deaths in the U.S. are way down.” — tweet Monday, one of at least a half dozen heralding a drop in daily deaths from the virus.

THE FACTS: It’s true that deaths dipped even as infections spiked in many parts of the country. But deaths lag sickness and the spikes have not played out.

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“It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday. He advised Americans: “Don’t get yourself into false complacency.”

Read more:
Trump’s Tulsa rally ‘more than likely’ behind new coronavirus surge: health official



TRUMP: “Job growth is biggest in history.” — tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: Yes, but only because it is following the greatest job losses in history, by far.

The U.S. economy shed more than 22 million jobs in March and April, wiping out nearly a decade of job growth in just two months, as the viral outbreak intensified and nearly all states shut down nonessential businesses. Since then, 7.5 million, or about one-third, of those jobs have been recovered as businesses reopened. Even after those gains, the unemployment rate is 11.1%, down from April and May but otherwise higher than at any point since the Depression.

Trump pushes for U.S. schools to reopen this fall

Trump pushes for U.S. schools to reopen this fall


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TRUMP: “Economy and Jobs are growing MUCH faster than anyone (except me!) expected.” — tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: Not really. It’s true that May’s gain of 2.7 million jobs was unexpected. Economists had forecast another month of job losses. But most economists projected hiring would sharply rebound by June or at the latest July, once businesses began to reopen. The gains kicked in a month earlier than forecast.

Now, though, coronavirus cases are rising in most states, imperiling the climb back. In six states representing one-third of the economy — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, and Texas — governors are reversing their reopening plans, and the restart is on pause in 15 other states. Such reversals are keeping layoffs elevated and threatening to weaken hiring.

Trump on Biden

TRUMP campaign ad, playing out a scenario where a person needing help calls the police in a Biden presidency and gets a voice recording: “You have reached the 911 police emergency line. Due to defunding of the police department, we’re sorry but no one is here to take your call.” The ad closes with the message: “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

THE FACTS: Biden has not joined the call of protesters who demanded “defund the police” after Floyd’s killing. He’s proposed more money for police, conditioned to improvements in their practices.

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“I don’t support defunding the police,“ Biden said last month in a CBS interview. But he said he would support tying federal aid to police based on whether “they meet certain basic standards of decency, honourableness and, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community, everybody in the community.”

Kudlow says Canada’s strict COVID-19 restrictions to blame for Trudeau not attending USMCA summit

Kudlow says Canada’s strict COVID-19 restrictions to blame for Trudeau not attending USMCA summit

Biden’s criminal justice agenda, released long before he became the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, proposes more federal money for “training that is needed to avert tragic, unjustifiable deaths” and hiring more officers to ensure that departments are racially and ethnically reflective of the populations they serve.

Specifically, he calls for a $300 million infusion into existing federal community policing grant programs.

That adds up to more money for police, not defunding law enforcement.

Biden also wants the federal government to spend more on education, social services and struggling areas of cities and rural America, to address root causes of crime.

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Read more:
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Democrats, meanwhile, have pointed to Trump’s repeated proposals in the administration’s budget to cut community policing and mediation programs at the Justice Department. Congressional Republicans say the program can be effectively merged with other divisions, but Democrats have repeatedly blocked the effort. The program has been used to help provide federal oversight of local police departments.

Despite proposed cuts, Attorney General William Barr last month said that the department would use the COPS program funding to hire over 2,700 police officers at nearly 600 departments across the country.


REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE email: “In the wake of rioting, looting, and tragic murders ripping apart communities across the country, Joe Biden said `Yes, absolutely’ he wants to defund the police.” — email Wednesday from Steve Guest, RNC’s rapid response director.

THE FACTS: That’s misleading, a selective use of Biden’s words on the subject.

Joe Biden attacks Trump’s COVID-19 remarks: ‘He’s worried about looking bad’

Joe Biden attacks Trump’s COVID-19 remarks: ‘He’s worried about looking bad’

The email links to an excerpted video clip of Biden’s conversation with liberal activist Ady Barkan, who endorsed Biden on Wednesday after supporting Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries. A full recording of that conversation, provided by the Biden campaign to The Associated Press, shows he again declined to support defunding police,

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Barkan raises the issue of police reform and asks whether Biden would funnel money into social services, mental health counselling and affordable housing to help reduce civilian interactions with police.

Biden responds that he is calling for increased funding for mental health providers but “that’s not the same as getting rid of or defunding all the police” and that both approaches are needed, including more money for community police.

Asked again by Barkan, “so we agree that we can redirect some of the funding,” Biden then answers “absolutely yes.”

Biden then gives the caveat that he means “not just redirect” federal money potentially but “condition” it on police improvements.

Read more:
Coronavirus: Trump threatens to withhold federal funding if schools don’t reopen in fall

“If they don’t eliminate choke holds, they don’t get (federal) grants, if they don’t do the following, they don’t get any help,” Biden replied.

“The vast majority of all police departments are funded by the locality, funded by the municipality, funded by the state,” he added. “It’s only the federal government comes in on top of that, and so it says you want help, you have to do the following reforms,.”

Biden on Trump

BIDEN: “President Trump claimed to the American people that he was a wartime leader, but instead of taking responsibility, Trump has waved a white flag, revealing that he ordered the slowing of testing and having his administration tell Americans that they simply need to `live with it.” — statement Wednesday marking the rise in U.S. coronavirus infections to more than 3 million.

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THE FACTS: To be clear, the government did not slow testing on the orders of the president.

Trump at first denied he was joking when he told a Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally on June 20 that he said “to my people, `Slow the testing down, please”’ because “they test and they test.” Days later he said he didn’t really mean it.

In any event, a succession of his public-health officials testified to Congress that the president never asked them to slow testing and that they were doing all they could to increase it. But testing remains markedly insufficient.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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