U.S President Donald Trump lied about the merits of NAFTA in order to whip up a populist rage that he could ride all the way to the White House, former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore says.
"He frankly misled the public, lied about the facts of NAFTA in order to dial up anti-NAFTA sentiment in order to ride that wave of anger, in part, into his success in those Midwest states," Moore told CBC News Network's Power & Politics in an interview Thursday.
Speaking a day after he attended a trade panel at Dentons law firm in Washington, D.C., in which he interviewed U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross about the ongoing trade negotiations, Moore said the total collapse of the pact could happen.
"I think it's a real threat and the odds are even, frankly, that it may happen," Moore said. "If you look at President Trump, if you look at the sweep of what he's done so far as president, he's had very little success at proactively gaining things, but he's had actual success at taking things down."
Moore notes Trump has pulled out of the Paris climate change deal and the Trans Pacific Partnership and has killed the U.S. DACA program protecting young immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.
Trump mused in his Oval Office meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday that he might scrap NAFTA in favour of a bilateral trade pact with Canada. Moore said everything he's heard in the U.S. suggests the Americans intend to follow China's lead in avoiding multi-country trade deals in favour of one-offs with individual countries.
"Donald Trump, the administration, and by the way both parties, see the coming feud on global economic presence and growth with China as the real challenge," said Moore, who is now a member of the Liberal government's NAFTA advisory panel.
"Retreating from multilaterals and continuing forward with bilaterals is something that they aspire to and it may well be an outcome of this process."