Trump and Canada: Many ways we may feel aftershocks of stunning U.S. presidential election

Trump and Canada: Many ways we may feel aftershocks of stunning U.S. presidential election

Donald Trump presidential win stuns Canadians, leaders around the world

WASHINGTON – When an unpredictable nationalist gets elected to lead the globe’s biggest superpower, the political shockwaves from the ground-shaking event will inevitably be felt by the next-door neighbour.

Donald Trump’s win jolted markets and stunned political leaders around the world.

The particularly abrupt plunge of the Mexican peso signalled expectations that the southern neighbour might feel the most effects. The loonie fluctuated too. Trump’s ascendancy to the White House could affect Canada in multiple ways.

An example of areas potentially affected include climate-change measures, trade, oil pipelines, Syrian refugees, labour and capital flows, military partnerships and high-level relations — some to Canada’s possible benefit, and others not.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a congratulatory statement Wednesday morning saying he looked forward to working closely with Trump and Congress on issues related to trade, investment, peace and security.

”Canada has no closer friend, ally and partner than the United States,” Trudeau said. ”The relationship between our two countries serves as a model for the world.”

The relationship will see some changes.

On climate policy, Trump promises to pull the U.S. from international climate agreements. He says he’ll shred President Barack Obama’s greenhouse-gas policies, and gut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Canada has numerous climate projects with the U.S. — now they’re in limbo.

The Trudeau government also announced plans to introduce carbon pricing — designed under potentially outdated market assumptions. One Canada-watcher in Washington wondered whether Ottawa’s new carbon policy would be economically feasible.

“Canada is going to be left with very, very, very expensive climate policies,” said Laura Dawson of the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute. ”It will be a disincentive to investment and manufacturing.”

Trump has repeatedly demanded a renegotiation of NAFTA — or he says he’ll cancel it.

That’s sure to cause jitters to the north, given that Canada sends three-quarters of its exports south. Several people interviewed recently downplayed the potential drama.  Trump has the power to scrap NAFTA, but they said it’s mitigated by several factors.

First is the possibility he’d back away from the promise, or seek only a minor renegotiation. Then, even if he cancels NAFTA, several trade experts have said Congress might have to actually reinstitute tariffs for it to have a serious impact. Further, Dawson said, the prior Canada-U.S. trade deal could still cover many parts lost from NAFTA.

One Canadian official expressed doubt a while back that Congress would assist in strangling the economy with trade barriers: “I’ve not met one Republican who thinks you can rip up NAFTA… They all roll their eyes.”

If he does scrap NAFTA, Dawson said, industry groups that remained silent during the election would suddenly start roaring.

”All of those folks are going to be lined up saying, ‘Are you kidding me? Do you know how much of our livelihood is dependent on open borders and trade between these three countries?’ If you were to impose a 30 per cent tariff on Mexico the economic impact would be immediate, swift and would represent even more job losses… There would be huge backlash.”

One other trade dynamic has changed: Polls suggest Trump’s rhetoric has made the Republican party more hostile to trade than Democrats. It remains to be seen whether protectionism and Buy America provisions become increasingly popular in Washington.

Canada’s oil industry will appreciate another stated policy of Trump’s

He has said several times he favours construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, killed by Obama. His campaign literature suggested he’d invite TransCanada Corp. to reapply for a permit. Then again, he’s made difficult-to-decipher comments about demanding a larger share of the profits for the U.S.; American companies and local governments always stood to profit from it.

If he’s serious about proceeding, it could be a bit of welcome news for the Canadian government. Trudeau had supported the pipeline, and now faces political dilemmas at home related to new pipelines.

He differs dramatically with Trump on refugees.

Trudeau went to the airport to welcome them from Syria. Trump refers to these people as a Trojan horse. His son even tweeted a comparison to a bowl of Skittles, where only one bad one can kill you.

Canada works closely with the U.S. on intelligence and screening of foreigners. It’s an integral part of ongoing plans to thin the Canada-U.S. border and facilitate trade. It’s far from certain a Trump administration would be keen on more refugees next door.

This is in sharp contrast with the Democrats, who wanted to be more welcoming. The current administration even looked to emulate Canada’s system for privately sponsoring refugees – another U.S. project potentially in limbo.

“This openness to foreign refugees could…. (affect) confidence in each other’s practices,” Dawson said, adding that it could have a ripple-effect touching trade-and-border initiatives.

Another potential plus for Canada: brain-poaching possibilities.

Even before the election, CNBC reported that the number of Americans searching for jobs in Canada had increased a whopping 58 per cent since last year on the jobs-posting platform Monster Worldwide.

It said the most-searched job for Americans looking to work in Canada was engineer.

Young, college-educated Americans like those who populate Silicon Valley are among the most hostile to Trump. The federal government has been working to rebrand Canada as more than a resource producer, but also a player in the digital economy.

Will Canada go poaching for brains, as well as investors?

The head of a major multinational investment company, Laurence Fink, told Trudeau within earshot of media, in a New York meeting a few months ago: ”A lot of confusion here in this country in investing. There’s probably even greater opportunities in the stable environment of Canada.”

There’s already some debate among Americans about heading north. The writer Jonathan Chait expressed annoyance at people contemplating this, in a piece for New York magazine on election night titled: ”Forget Canada. Stay and Fight for American Democracy.”

Defence spending could become an irritant.

Trump has threatened to leave allies to their own devices if they fail to meet the agreed-upon NATO target of spending two per cent of GDP on the military. Canada is nowhere close and recently said it had no current intention to get there.

Here’s what Trump says about NATO allies: ”The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense, and if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves.”

Finally, the high-level leadership.

Trudeau’s affection for the current president was obvious during their meetings. He’ll soon face a less-predictable interlocutor.

Trudeau bit his tongue, mostly, during the campaign but did make clear his displeasure with Trump’s talk of a Muslim ban. Trudeau dedicated his first United Nations General Assembly speech to the danger of nationalist populism.

Members of his government expressed concern, privately, about a Trump win.

Now they’ll be dealing with a president whose election drew a celebratory tweet from France’s National Front. Also, a president whose default stance on trade irritants during the campaign was to vow punishment of trading partners.

It’s unclear how Trudeau will handle a counterpart with whom he disagrees more often; and might struggle to read. Complicating matters, the Trudeau team has far fewer connections with Trump’s rag-tag campaign outfit, which frequently underwent staff overhauls and relied heavily on political rookies.

The Trudeau PMO had ready-made connections with top allies to Hillary Clinton. Trudeau’s top aides, for instance, knew her campaign chair. Now they’ll be making different contacts. As for who the new team might include, a recent report suggested Trump was weighing making Newt Gingrich his secretary of state and Rudy Giuliani his attorney general.

One final benefit working for Ottawa: Trump and his team have said virtually nothing negative about Canada during the campaign — unlike the constant complaints about the neighbour to the south.

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The Pierre family, an Indigenous family, once lived in what is now downtown Summerland. Today, Pierre Drive is named in honour of the family. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Pierre family played role in Summerland’s history

Downtown Summerland was once Penticton Indian Reserve #3

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack Facebook)
Church burns on Penticton Indian Band land

The fire started around 1:30 a.m. Monday morning

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Most Read