TORONTO (AP) – Donald Trump called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “weak” and “dishonest” and attacked Canada’s vital trade. He threatened customs duties on cars and imposed them on steel.
The unprecedented tone of the attacks on America’s closest ally over the past four years has left a bitter taste, and most Canadians will be relieved if Trump is defeated in the election.
“He is ready to threaten Canada with dire consequences in a way we have never seen before,” said Roland Paris, a former senior foreign policy adviser to Trudeau.
Canada is one of the most trade-dependent countries in the world, and Trump̵
About 75% of Canada’s exports go to the United States, so maintaining a free trade deal was crucial, and both countries, along with Mexico, reached a new agreement last year. But just six weeks after its implementation, Trump announced new tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
“Trump was an unpredictable nightmare,” said Nelson Wiseman, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto. “The government and most Canadians are looking for and hoping for Trump’s defeat.”
About two-thirds of Canadians had a favorable view of the United States in 2016, Barack Obama’s last full year in the presidency, according to the Pew Research Center.
That year, that number has dropped to 35 percent, the lowest figure since the center began voting in Canada two decades ago. Only 20% of those polled said they trusted Trump to do the right thing in world affairs.
The June-August telephone survey of 1,037 Canadians had an error of 3.7 percentage points.
Trump’s Democrat Joe Biden, meanwhile, described Canada as “as a family” when Trudeau hosted a state dinner in Ottawa a month after Biden left the vice presidency. Biden knew that Justin’s father, the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and the leaders of the Democrats and Liberals were ideologically organized.
“Personal relationships would improve by about 3,000%,” with Biden, said historian Robert Boswell. “There will be a return to rationality and friendliness. The Biden administration will bring with it a whole host of people who value American alliances, so Canada would benefit not only from bilateral and multilateral attempts to rebuild various Western alliances. ”
Some Canadian analysts have complained that the Trump administration has not helped much in their country – other than issuing statements of support – when China detained two Canadians in clear revenge for the arrest of a senior Chinese executive wanted by a US executive. There was no support when Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador and told his own students to leave Canada after the foreign minister called for greater human rights in the kingdom.
“Brave authoritarian regimes are betting that the United States will not punish them for targeting American allies, and Canada has borne the brunt,” said Paris, now a professor of international relations at the University of Ottawa.
But there may be an early irritant if Biden wins. Biden said he would cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, a project designed to expand critical oil exports to Canada, which has the world’s third-largest oil reserves.
Biden’s call for a “Buy American” trade policy also affects Canada.
Trade in goods and services between the United States and Canada amounted to about $ 725.1 billion in 2019, with a deficit of $ 2.7 billion for the United States. The United States had a surplus of $ 7.4 billion in 2017,
The ties between the two countries are unparalleled anywhere in the world. There is close co-operation in the fields of defense, border security and law enforcement, and a huge overlap in culture, traditions and entertainment – with shared baseball, hockey, basketball and football leagues. About 400,000 people crossed the world’s longest international border each day before the pandemic closed for minor travel in March.
The United States has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any other country, but in Canada there is hope that the Biden administration will contain the virus better.
“We cannot have a closed border forever. “The fact that it has so far been received almost without peek is partly a measure of how unpleasant the Trump administration is,” Botwell said.
The Canadians expressed injury when their neighbor blocked the supply of N95 protective masks from the United States at the beginning of the pandemic. Bruce Heyman, a former US ambassador to Canada, called it a low point.
“I just couldn’t imagine living next door to someone and they need something to survive, and I’m like ‘You can’t have it.’ “It’s just unthinkable,” Hayman said. “The relationship is like family. It’s like a trusted neighbor, and we have a president who doesn’t appreciate any of these things. He was so transactional to win for him. “
Hayman said another low point was when Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro said he had a “special place in hell” for Trudeau after the G7 summit in Quebec in 2018, when Trudeau told reporters that Canada will retaliate against new US tariffs, which it considers unfair. Trump was furious, pulling the United States out of the G7 joint communiqué, calling Trudeau “dishonest” and “weak,” and threatening to force the Canadian people to pay for trade talks.
Trudeau, for his part, recently met with Canadian diplomats in the United States and recently said, “We all certainly hope for a smooth transition or a clear election result like many people around the world.”
“If it’s not so clear, there may be interruptions and we have to be ready,” he added.
Paris said America had changed in recent years: “Even if Biden wins, he will rule a country that is deeply divided, internally focused, and where ideas, the first in America, have made a real breakthrough among lawmakers and the general public.”
Botwell said he was concerned about Trump’s continued support: “The fact that 40 percent of Americans support this man, no matter how deeply discouraging.”