OTTAWA — Some of what was said Wednesday about the potential impact on Canada of president-elect Donald Trump:
“The relationship between Canada and the United States is based on shared values and shared hopes and dreams and we will always work well together. We are strong because we listen to each other and we respect each other.” — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Any relationship will change with new incumbents. But our relationship is founded on some pretty fundamental principles, and we’ll work continuously on those fundamental principles and we anticipate that it will go well, as it has with other administrations.” — Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
“Canada and the U.S. have been usually pretty resilient in working through difficulties as and when they arise.” — Johnston.
___”The United States is, and will remain, Canada’s closest friend and ally. Our unique relationship has stood the test of nearly 150 years.” — Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose.
“I think when you see the type of racist, sexist comments that were made by Mr. Trump during the campaign, those are things we don’t want here in Canada.” — NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.
“If they want to have a discussion about improving NAFTA, then we’re ready to come to the table.” — David MacNaughton, Canadian ambassador to Washington.
“We will not be seeing a carbon tax in the U.S. any time soon. It makes no sense for our federal government to push ahead with imposing a national carbon tax, when our biggest trading partner — and our biggest competitor for investment and jobs — is not going to have one.” — Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.
“He’s a deal maker. He wants to know: what do you have to offer?” — Georganne Burke, a former Conservative party staffer and a Trump supporter, speaking of the president-elect.
“Mr. Trump campaigned in punchlines and broad strokes but not a lot of detail. Now, the transition team will be working on the detail. We can work on that in the coming month to shape that.” — Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat who has served in the United States.
“I think Canada is well-placed, honestly. I don’t think this is the gloom and doom for Canada at all.” — Sarah Goldfeder, a former diplomat with the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.
As the shock waves from Tuesday night’s stunning upset victory reverberate south of the border, Canadian officials are likely already bracing for a very bumpy ride.
WATCH: Trudeau expects ‘respect’ as Canada now prepares to ‘work’ with President-elect Trump
Experts who spoke with Global News last week about what a Trump presidency would mean for Canada agreed on one point: it’s not going to be business as usual.
Here’s a look at what we might expect from Trump in several key policy areas.
The business mogul-turned political leader has made it clear he will not be the most climate-friendly president ever to take up residence in the White House.
Trump once called climate change a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese, and his promises to pull out of the Paris climate-change agreement and to back coal at the expense of greener energy have environmentalists very worried.
WATCH: Over 80% of Canadians say Hillary Clinton would be better for Canada
“Regulations that shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants and block the construction of new ones — how stupid is that?” he said during the campaign.
Catherine Potvin, a biology professor and climate change expert at McGill University, said her biggest worry is that Trump will reverse many of the green initiatives launched under President Barack Obama, and that it will have a direct impact on Canada.
“Because the Congress is largely Republican, I think it’s pretty bad news for the climate,” she said.
But businesses (both Canadian and American) are increasingly benefiting from the transition to a low-carbon economy, she added, and the world is moving toward that future with or without American support.
WATCH: President-elect Donald Trump calls for unity in his victory speech
“Under President Trump, I would say it’s going be the businesses that will be driving the transition, and it’s going to be more costly for them because they will not be able to take advantage of government regulation or subsidies.”
But having the U.S. pull out of the Paris agreement at this stage would be catastrophic, according to Debra Steger, a professor and former Canadian negotiator at the World Trade Organization. Not least because the Trudeau government has worked so hard to trumpet it.
“It would be a devastating blow” for Canada, she said.
As for a unified North American agreement on carbon pricing, Canadians shouldn’t hold their breath.
One small patch of common ground might be the Keystone XL pipeline project, however, which Obama recently rejected. Trump has said he’ll approve the pipeline, effectively reversing that decision, but only if America gets a chunk of the profits.
Security and defence
Canada can expect pressure from the White House to increase dramatically under Trump when it comes to international security efforts, said Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and vice-president at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
“Whether it’s Trump or Clinton, I think they’ll both push us to spend more on defence.” Robertson predicted.
“Right now we don’t meet the NATO standard of (defence spending) commitment by 2020 of two per cent of (Gross Domestic Product).”
WATCH: Trump steps back stance to pull out of NATO
America is devoting a full four per cent of its GDP to defence, something that Robertson said probably isn’t sustainable. Canada is sitting at the bottom of the list of the biggest spenders, he noted.
While Clinton may have been more diplomatic, Trump will demand more spending “in a kind of forceful fashion.”
“Almost, ‘If you don’t pay your dues we’re not going to defend you.’” he said.
“And that has importance obviously for NORAD, which is the bilateral defence agreement we have with the United States, but also in the case of NATO.”
WATCH: NATO chief focused on strong ‘transatlantic bond’ with US following Trump victory
When it comes to the fight against the so-called Islamic State, Trump has promised to “pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff (sic) their funding, expand intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting.”
All of these pledges could mean major pressure on Canada to increase troops and other security resources, as well as renewed pressure from the United States to resume the bombing mission halted by the Liberal government last winter.
Economics and trade
It’s this policy area that has many analysts most concerned.
Trump is blatantly protectionist, which runs contrary to Ottawa’s pro-trade stance under Trudeau. Among other things, the new president has pledged to pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
He has also promised to drastically increase tariffs on Chinese goods making their way to America.
“(Canada) wouldn’t be the first target,” Robertson said. “But the danger there is that we become collateral damage because we have so much trade with the United States.”
The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is almost guaranteed to be consigned to the scrap heap.
WATCH: We have to stop the horror known as Trans-Pacific Partnership, says Trump
“It is highly improbable with Mr. Trump that the TPP would go anywhere, which means we would have to then think about negotiating separate deals with first Japan, and perhaps talking to Mexico,” Robertson said.
Pulling out of NAFTA, meanwhile, would have a very real and significant effect on the Canadian economy. The United States is our largest trading partner, and Steger pointed out that Trump “hasn’t even bothered to ask Prime Minister Trudeau whether he’s willing to renegotiate.”
Steger, an expert in international trade, also questioned the legality of many of Trump’s proposals on trade, noting that they may contravene World Trade Organization regulations.
“What’s he going to do, withdraw from the WTO?” she said.
“This just demonstrates to you the absurdity of some of his positions. It’s just unthinkable for the U.S. to begin to flagrantly violating WTO rules and yet most of the so-called policies that he advocates … you simply can’t do.”
As much as Trump seems ignorant of how international trade works, Steger said, he seems even less informed about international diplomacy. That could spell big trouble for Canada as it seeks to present a united front with America on issues like Russian aggression in Ukraine, or the ongoing conflict in Syria.
“(Trump will) be a very different kind of person to deal with, and this cuts across all foreign policy issues,” Steger said.
“Basically he doesn’t understand how international relations work, when it comes down to it.”
According to former diplomat Robertson, presidents and prime ministers normally focus heavily on international affairs when they meet, and that may hold true for Trump and Trudeau in spite of their differences.
“(The Americans) are genuinely interested in what we can bring to the table from our diplomatic service abroad, what we pick up in talking to other leaders,” he said.
Published Tuesday, November 8, 2016 6:08AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 9, 2016 6:26AM EST
OTTAWA — It wasn’t the party that they were expecting.
Donald Trump’s surprise win in the bitterly fought U.S. election came as a sharp surprise Tuesday to election watchers in Canada, including those gathered in the historic ballroom of a downtown Ottawa hotel.
The U.S. Embassy’s viewing party at Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier hotel started as a festive occasion, but the mood soon turned serious. The cocktail banter of embassy staffers, politicos and invited guests became decidedly muted through the night as big-screen TVs blared live coverage of Trump’s gains in key swing states like Florida, Ohio and Michigan.
The sound was turned up on the television screens and stayed up for much of the evening as Hillary Clinton’s expected victory — some said it would be a landslide — failed to materialize.
One woman covered her mouth and turned away from the screen, while another said, “Oh no!” one U.S.-born guest was overheard telling a friend they might have to reconsider moving back south of the border as planned.
“It appears we’re going to have to still wait a little while to determine who is going to be the next president of the United States,” U.S. ambassador Bruce Heyman told the few dozen embassy staffers, journalists and guests lingering shortly before midnight when the embassy had to pack up their party for the night, hours before Trump’s victory became clear.
“Regardless of who wins this race, the U.S.-Canada relationship will continue to thrive and be very strong,” he said. “I know that we will continue to be the best friends, trading partners and allies as we face this new presidency.”
A Trump presidency would surely have wide-ranging repercussions in Canada, said Laura Dawson, the head of the Canada Institute at Washington’s Wilson Center, citing examples like climate policies, Syrian refugees and trade.
Trump has promised to gut environmental regulations at a time when Canada plans a variety of climate-change policies, including a carbon tax, she noted.
“Canada is going to be left with very, very, very expensive climate policies,” Dawson said. “It will be a disincentive to investment and manufacturing.”
Dawson was less convinced of major changes to trade policy. Other Canadians interviewed have also expressed doubt that his renegotiate-or-scrap threat about NAFTA would arrive at its most potent impact.
A president could rescind a trade deal. But the setting of tariffs belongs to Congress. Furthermore, remnants of the 1987 Canada-U.S. agreement could kick back in. And the private sector, she said, would revolt.
“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?”‘ Dawson said.
“There would be huge backlash.”
There’s also the matter of the Keystone XL pipeline — rejected by U.S. President Barack Obama but supported by Trump, and an interesting prospect for a federal Liberal government that needs to get some pipelines built.
On refugees, Canada has thrown open its doors while Trump has appealed to his supporters by pledging to slam them shut — a sentiment that was thrown in sharp relief by a tweet that came from the federal government’s official account just as the Republican candidate appeared to be picking up steam.
“In Canada, immigrants are encouraged to bring their cultural traditions with them and share them with their fellow citizens,” the tweet read, prompting a number of users to suggest it was meant as an intentional jab.
A government official said in an email that the tweet should not be “construed as having anything at all to do with the US election.”
There were also multiple media reports about the website for Citizenship and Immigration Canada crashing at the height of the campaign coverage; the site was indeed slow to load throughout the night, but it was unclear whether excessive traffic from would-be U.S. emigrants was the cause.
Tuesday’s narrow vote count was in many ways a fitting end to the angry and hard-fought presidential battle between Trump, the brash businessman-turned-improbable Republican nominee, and the would-be first female president in U.S. history.
Before Trump’s victory was certain, Heyman predicted a smooth transition regardless of who won.
“Having gone through the day, watching Americans coming out all across the country in record numbers and seeing the large number of votes that were in early, I’m very relaxed,” Heyman said earlier in the evening, before results began coming in.
“One of the things we have to be most proud of is the smooth transitions in our government.”
Retired Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, who commanded the NATO force that backed rebels fighting Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi, called it a historic night that Canadians would be watching closely.
Bouchard knows the U.S. well having served Fort Hood, Texas military base on an exchange at NORAD in Colorado Springs and other U.S. postings during his Canadian military career.
“We wish them the best and we wish them a peaceful transition,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said it would have no comment until a winner was declared. Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna both came and went from the party without talking to reporters.
Fen Hampson, the head of the global security program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont., said Trump’s success was reminiscent of the “Berlusconi effect,” a reference to the former Italian leader Sylvio Berlusconi.
“Nobody said they supported him but he kept getting elected,” said Hampson.
One Canadian official, who was not authorized to discuss the election publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that should Trump manage to pull out a victory, Canadians can take some measure of comfort in the fact Trump apparently has a lot of respect for Justin Trudeau and his international celebrity status, added the official, who has spoken to the Trump campaign about the prime minister.
“They think he’s a showman…. They respect his success.”
It helps matters that Trudeau has steadfastly refused to get drawn into the acrimony south of the border.
“You’ve noticed how careful our prime minister has been,” the official said. “I think that was smart… You don’t ever know.”
Dawson said one of the biggest headlines for Canadians in the event of a Trump win — renegotiating or tearing up the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA — would in all likelihood never come to pass.
“All of those (companies) 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?’ she said.
“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 for the United States.”
Colin Robertson, a retired Canadian diplomat who served in the U.S. said a Clinton victory would have been better for Canada because it would ensure a level of continuity from Obama’s two terms.
“We’ve already got a reset relationship starting in March, confirmed at the end of June when the president came up here.”