Canadian and American Relations in the Trump Era

The inauguration of the polarizing president- elect will have implications north of the border

By: Brady Coyle, Staff Writer

PC: Andrew Butters/Flickr

PC: Andrew Butters/Flickr

Waking up on the morning of Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, this was the last article I thought I would be writing. But alas, here we are. Two weeks ago, in a stunning turn of events, Donald J. Trump was elected to be the 45th President of the United States.

For some, this may be a tough pill to swallow. However, come midday on January 20th of 2017, President-elect Trump will be sworn into office. This is a reality that America has to prepare itself for, and while America tries to brace itself, so should we, as a Donald Trump Presidency will have profound effects on Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already begun his attempts to mitigate any negative implications of a Trump presidency, by calling Trump and extending an invitation for him to come to Canada.

The Prime Minister and the President-elect reiterated the importance of the Canada-United States bilateral relationship, and discussed various areas of mutual interest,” said a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

While they may be putting on a public display of an amiable relationship, Trump’s campaign suggests policies will clash in a significant manner when it comes to the environment, trade, foreign policy and the border.

Climate change is one area where both governments differ. While Trudeau has insisted that climate change is one of the most pressing issues the world faces, Trump is a climate change skeptic. Trump has promised to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement and has pledged to support the coal industry while repealing restrictions on pollution.

When it comes to trade, Trump campaigned on a promise to renegotiate NAFTA for the benefit of the U.S. He has also threatened to leave NAFTA if countries do not agree with his terms. This would potentially eliminate free trade with Canada’s first and fourth biggest trading partners, being the U.S. and Mexico, respectively.

Trump’s foreign policy is also an area that Canada ought to be worried about. Not only has Trump praised leaders like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, but he is setting up policy that is going to be, for lack of better term, “America First”. Trump has also indicated that NATO members will have to pay the U.S. for its inclusion or else the U.S. will not offer protection.

The subject where Canada and the United States differ the most is the border. While Trudeau rode into office on a campaign pledging to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees before 2016, Trump has different views on America’s security. While promising to build a wall along the U.S.- Mexico border, Trump has called Syrian refugees a terrorist “Trojan horse”. He has also pledged to impose a ban on Muslims entering the United States, and promised tougher vetting for anyone entering the country.

These are significant issues for the Canadian government. Our neighbour to the South, Canada’s biggest trading partner and with whom Canada shares the world’s largest border, have elected a government that has a very conflicting agenda with ours.

While there should be an effort to maintain a successful, beneficial relationship with the United States, it is critical our government does not compromise Canadian values or allow foreign governments to dictate terms of our treaties and policies.

If Trudeau and Trump decide to stick to promises they made while campaigning, it will be interesting to see how long their friendly relationship can last. But there is no doubt in the importance of a bilateral relationship between Canada and the United States.

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