Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister
Canada to fight back on US tariff on lumber
01:37 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: David R. Wheeler is a freelance writer, a journalism professor at the University of Tampa, and the editor of the online magazine Follow him on Twitter: @David_R_Wheeler. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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David Wheeler: Trump hitting Canada's lumber with tariffs. He says it's to level the playing field. But that's not really why

Wheeler: Three reasons: Justin Trudeau's handshake, Samantha Bee's insults and Canada's superior lumberjacks

CNN  — 

This week, the Trump administration slapped Canada with tariffs of up to 24% on lumber shipped to the United States.

David R. Wheeler

The stated reasons? The Canadian government allegedly provides unfair subsidies to Canadian lumber firms like West Fraser Mills and Canfor Corp.

Also: Milk.

As Trump tweeted, “Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult. We will not stand for this. Watch!”

Now for the real reasons, which I think are obvious: Justin Trudeau’s handshake, Samantha Bee’s insults, and Canada’s superior lumberjacks.

First, the handshake. Did you see the viral video of Trump literally jerking people around with his bizarre handshake? It’s a habit of his to suddenly pull people forward, mid-handshake, making them practically topple over. A signature Trump alpha-monkey move. He even does it to people he likes. Bet you didn’t expect to practically lose an appendage during that handshake, did you, Neil Gorsuch?

But Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, famous for his athletic ability, was well prepared for Trump’s maneuver. In February, when they met, Trump tried several times to jerk Trudeau forward, but eventually gave up and let him walk into the White House as the clear handshake victor.

It was all caught on camera. How embarrassing. And Trump isn’t going to let that kind of humiliation go unpunished.

Next: One of the most incisive and effective Trump critics — and there are some great ones all around the world — is undoubtedly Samantha Bee. Here are just a few of her descriptions of Trump:

• Orange supremacist

• First-grader with a head injury

• George Wallace in a wig

• Melting hunk of uninformed apricot Jell-O

And can you guess where Bee is from? Toronto. Surely even more infuriating to Trump, she’s the only woman hosting a late-night satire show. Can Trump sit idly by and let a Canadian woman come down into our country, taking what should be a man’s job, and use her bully pulpit to criticize him? There must be retribution for this grave offense.

Finally, there’s the Canadian lumberjack factor. Did you know — and this is a scientific fact — that Canadian lumberjacks are, on average, 25% more masculine than American lumberjacks? Did you also know that some say Paul Bunyan himself was of French Canadian origin?

The insult to Trump’s masculinity is just too much. He had to fight back. Frankly, he didn’t have a choice. And what’s the best way to fight back? By starting a trade war.

Sure, Canada is a NATO ally, a great northern neighbor and a trade partner to the tune of more than half a trillion dollars a year, benefiting both countries. And sure, trade wars usually only encourage one-upmanship, and tit-for-tat retaliation, creating losers on both sides of the border.

But this trade war is going to be different. Why? Because Trump always wins. That’s why he’s had such a successful first 100 days in office, with landmark legislation, record-high approval ratings, and the ability to draw Americans closer together in a spirit of bipartisanship not seen in decades.

That’s if a trade war happens.

If a real war happens, well, I think Alan Alda said it best in the movie “Canadian Bacon”: “Surrender pronto, or we’ll level Toronto!”

Take that, Canada!