There was a lot of noise last week that arose out of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision not to go to what was billed as a signing ceremony for the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s revised 11-country trade deal. Canada had signed the deal once before. Then-trade minister Chrystia Freeland did it shortly after the Liberals took power, in 2016. But they cautioned that signing the deal, negotiated by the Conservatives before their 2015 election loss, didn’t mean Canadian ratification was a slam-dunk. The Liberals went on to organize exhaustive consultations and so did the House Trade Committee, visiting cities across the country. Meanwhile, the Conservatives said the Liberals were just trying to delay their final decision on whether to support the TPP until after the United States presidential election. Both the Democratic and Republican candidates in the race were gloomy on TPP, and it was no surprise that winner Donald Trump canned U.S. involvement soon after becoming president. That left Mr. Trudeau in a tight spot. Go along with the other 10 countries in the deal, including key trading partners Mexico and Japan, and renegotiate the deal without the U.S., thereby pleasing Western Canadian farmers eager to get their product to hungry Asian markets, or follow Canada’s biggest trading partner, the U.S., and get out of the TPP. The latter move would please labour and left-leaning groups, as well as Canada’s second-biggest trading partner, China, which Canada has been courting to possibly strike up a country-to-country trade deal. The Liberals chose to keep negotiating a so-called TPP-11, but without much fanfare. And the deal looked like it would be clinched at last week’s APEC summit, but after trying to dampen expectations in the lead-up to the summit, Mr. Trudeau had a long one-on-one chat with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before deciding he wasn’t ready to sign an agreement in principle. That left the other leaders sitting at a table twiddling their thumbs, as the Canadian chairs sat empty. For the big boosters of the deal, that left a sour taste. A report in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald said Trudeau “sabotaged” the talks at the 11th hour. An Australian TV station cited a source who said "the Canadians screwed everybody." Those negative reports prompted a round of Canadian damage control. The Canadian Press, citing an unnamed Canadian official, reported that in fact Mr. Trudeau had planned all along not to agree to the deal unless changes were made, and that he wasn’t the only one with cold feet. The Mexicans, too, were apprehensive. Mr. Trudeau was reported to be concerned perhaps about autos, cultural issues, and the interplay between the TPP and ongoing NAFTA negotiations, or perhaps because of the awkwardness signing the deal would create with China. Though the official claimed that Mr. Trudeau’s no-show wasn’t a negotiating strategy, it did yield results, they said. TPP trade ministers agreed afterward to changes Canada had been asking for. Trade deals are always a delicate dance of negotiating tactics. But with the Trudeau government saying little about what actually were its sticking points and why Mr. Trudeau held off on signing the deal, it’s hard to say whether he made the right move. The Liberals’ approach has never been clear, and in some respects that has helped it to ride the political wave and come out on top, but it’s also left a lot of Canadian stakeholders in the dark. The Liberals should be more up-front about their next move with the TPP.