Canada US Relations after Charlevoix

After the diplomatic disaster of the Group of Seven summit in Charlevoix, Que., it is now clear that for Mr. Trump it is not about leading – the traditional role of the U.S. President – but about winning at any cost. Relationships are not for cultivating, but only for using to Trumpian advantage.

Canada and like-minded countries need to stick together, act in tandem and push back against Trumpist protectionism. It means taking it to him where it hurts and targeting his base: in particular the farm community. At the same time, we need to tell Americans, who will suffer job loss and higher prices, that they have only their president to blame.

For more than 500 days now, Justin Trudeau has made nice to Mr. Trump. The advice from former prime minister Brian Mulroney was correct – that the relationship with the president is the most important relationship for a prime minister and that Canada-U.S. relations, alongside national unity and national security, are the files that require a prime minister’s constant attention.

Among liberal democratic leaders, Mr. Trudeau was seen as the one who had the best relationship with Mr. Trump. He was the Trump whisperer. But Mr. Trump’s behaviour at Charlevoix, Que., was abominable.

The tweets before Charlevoix, Que., took personal shots at both Mr. Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, the other leader who has cultivated Mr. Trump. The tweets afterward, insulting Mr. Trudeau, are beyond the pale. As Mr. Trudeau said, we are a polite people but we are not pushovers.

Canadians are justly outraged, but we have deep interests at stake, so we need to proceed with care and planning.

First, we need to get our act together domestically. Mr. Trudeau needs to consult with the premiers and business to get their advice on our retaliation list. What is their assessment of increased protectionism on their province and industries? What about life after the North American free-trade agreement? We will be hurt. We will need to provide adjustment assistance for the afflicted. But how would Americans like it if Canadians began to spontaneously boycott American goods, especially U.S. farm produce, and stopped travelling south for holidays?

Second, we need to take advantage of the free-trade deals that we already have in place and put real effort into matchmaking; business with business. As a matter of our national security (two can play this game), we should quickly pass the implementing legislation to bring the new Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership into effect. With Canada’s implementation, the agreement would immediately come into force.

If this means keeping parliamentarians at work into July so be it. Provincial legislatures may also have to be recalled. While they are at it they should pass their enabling legislation for the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. This is a matter of grave national economic urgency. Canadians need to see that their legislators are acting in the national interest.

Third, we need to act in tandem with our G7 partners and like-minded countries, such as Mexico, as we collectively retaliate to the recently imposed steel and aluminium tariffs. Canada and Mexico learned the value of acting collectively when they worked together to persuade the U.S. Congress to rescind its protectionist country-of-origin labelling requirement in 2015.

American legislators respond to local pressure. They need to feel the heat of retaliation. Canada has a lot of allies, especially in the Republican congressional caucus. They don’t like Mr. Trump’s direction and are already moving to curb the trade powers that were ceded to the executive branch during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. Hopefully, we will see then the beauty of the checks and balances at work. The U.S. founding fathers designed their system to prevent a president from becoming a king.

The more Mr. Trump attacks his fellow G7 and fellow democratically elected leaders the more difficult it makes it for them to go along with him when it counts. That includes, however unlikely, a deal with North Korea.

The road that Mr. Trump is going down makes no economic sense. George W. Bush reluctantly imposed limited steel tariffs in 2002 (Canada was exempt) and lifted them a year later because it was costing American jobs, not creating them.

Canadians are used to compromise and consensus, especially in how we handle the relationship with Uncle Sam. Manage it well and we can tell them when their breath is bad. Mr. Trump has a bad case of halitosis. We need to tell him so and serve him the bitter medicine he has brought on himself.

CPAC Prime Time Politics Monday, June 11, 2018

Colin Robertson and Christopher Sands on Canada–U.S. Relations00:10:34Quick View

PRIMETIME POLITICS

Colin Robertson and Christopher Sands on Canada–U.S. Relations

 The G7 Summit in Charlevoix ended in dramatic fashion on Saturday with U.S. President Donald Trump directing strong criticism at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over Canada’s response to U.S. tariffs. CPAC’s Martin Stringer is joined by two experts in foreign affairs and diplomacy to assess the current state of the Canada–U.S. relationship. Colin Robertson is vice-president and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former Canadian diplomat. Christopher Sands is director of the Center for Canadian Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. (June 11, 2018) (no interpretation)

 

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US Election with Ambassadors Gary Doer and Gordon Giffin

A panel discussion is held in Ottawa entitled The US Election – A Wild Ride Ahead for Canada? The discussion features Gary Doer (former Canadian Ambassador to the United States), Gordon Giffin (senior advisor to the Clinton campaign and former U.S. Ambassador to Canada) and Colin Robertson (Vice-President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute) discussing the upcoming US election and what impact it will have on the Canada-US relationship. (October 25)

2016)http://www.cpac.ca/en/digital-archives/?search=Giffin+Doer

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Trudeau Visit

Obama on growing friendship with Trudeau: “What’s not to like?”

Reuters

U.S. President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau laugh as they meet in the Oval Office following an official arrival ceremony for Trudeau at the White House in Washington

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U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau laugh as they meet in the …By David Ljunggren

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Thursday turned the page on years of shaky ties with Canada by staging a lavish White House welcome for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, making clear the new leader is a man after his own heart.

Trudeau, 44, the left-leaning Liberal Party leader and son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, took power last November. He already enjoys a closer bond with the Democratic president than his right-of-center predecessor, Stephen Harper of the Conservatives, managed in more than six years of dealing with the Obama administration.

“He campaigned on a message of hope and of change. His positive and optimistic vision is inspiring young people,” Obama said after meeting with Trudeau in the Oval Office.

“So, from my perspective, what’s not to like?” he added, also noting Trudeau’s commitment to the environment.

Keeping good relations with the United States is critical for Canada, which sends 75 percent of its exports to its southern neighbor. Trudeau brought along six Cabinet ministers in a sign of how seriously he took the visit.

Obama struck a warm, informal tone from the start and told Trudeau at a state dinner he “may well be the most popular Canadian named Justin.” Singer Justin Bieber is from Canada.

The White House dinner was the first for a Canadian leader since 1997. Obama never did the same for Harper, who irritated the administration by insisting it approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Obama blocked the project last year.

At an arrival ceremony on Thursday morning, Obama teased Trudeau about the failure in recent years of Canadian hockey teams to win the sport’s top honor.

“Where’s the Stanley Cup right now?” he asked. “I’m sorry. Is it in my hometown with the Chicago Blackhawks?”

Trudeau replied there was a high U.S. demand for Canadian exports, including three of the star players who helped the Blackhawks win the National Hockey League championship last year.

In Ottawa, Conservative Party foreign affairs spokesman Tony Clement said Trudeau’s visit had little deeper meaning, given that Obama would out of office in January 2017.

Even so, the next few months could be crucial for Canada, said Colin Robertson of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, a former senior diplomat with two U.S. postings.

Encouraged by Obama’s tone, American officials are starting to re-examine important elements of the bilateral relationship in a favorable way, Robertson said.

“The next administration is not going to have Canada on their radar,” he said in a phone interview. “But their reference point when they do … will be this review conducted under the best possible auspices.”

 

CPAC Prime Time Politics host Peter Van Dusen previews the prime minister’s trip to Washington with  Colin Robertson (Canadian Global Affairs Institute), Christopher Sands (Johns Hopkins University).

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US Election: Economics

ierre Martin (Université de Montréal) and Colin Robertson (Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute) discuss the closing hours of the American presidential campaign from a Canadian perspective with CPAC Prime Time Politics Host Peter van Dusen

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Harper visits China

CPAC anchor Peter van Dusen interviews Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, and discusses the prime minister’s continuing visit to China.

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On the Border Deal

CPAC’s Peter Van Dusen discusses the Security Perimeter Agreement with former U.S. diplomat Theresa Brown and former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson.

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