Canada-U.S. relations: A look at challenges Justin Trudeau faces – National


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Canada’s relationship with the U.S. is but once more within the arms of Liberal Chief Justin Trudeau — an individual fairly accustomed to the tumultuousness of his political counterpart south of the border.

And whereas it wasn’t a driving theme of the election marketing campaign, the connection comes with heavy baggage that the newly minted chief might want to deal with.

Between a yet-to-be ratified Canada-U.S.-Mexico Settlement (CUSMA), lingering tensions with China and an erratic American counterpart, Trudeau has a full plate.  

Right here’s a have a look at among the key points Trudeau will probably be tasked with dealing with:


The brand new NAFTA is on the coronary heart of commerce relations with the USA.

The commerce deal was signed in November however have to be ratified by lawmakers in all three international locations for it to move into legislation. To this point, solely Mexico has performed so.

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In 2015, Justin Trudeau declared ‘Canada is back’— so where are we now?

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has been pressuring U.S. Congress to move the invoice, however Democrats need amendments earlier than they seal the deal.

Canada desires to synchronize its strikes with the U.S.

“One of many issues Canada will face is: ‘Can we move it, because the Mexicans have performed, or can we wait?’” mentioned Chris Sands, director on the Middle for Canadian Research at Johns Hopkins College. “There’s additionally this query mark as to what the U.S. passes. It’s a type of obscure issues that could possibly be explosive, because the U.S. negotiates between [U.S. trade representatives] and Congress on what precisely the invoice seems to be like. ”

Whereas Sands is definite Canada will move it —“not as a result of it’s nice however as a result of it’s essential to have the framework” — he mentioned there may be nonetheless an opportunity for hiccups.

“Something that the U.S. does on [CUSMA] that isn’t anticipated will pose both a giant or small dilemma for the subsequent Canadian Parliament,” he mentioned.

2:31Federal Election 2019: Trudeau highlights negotiation document on NAFTA

Federal Election 2019: Trudeau highlights negotiation document on NAFTA

Trump has expressed fear that the passage of the settlement may get much less possible with time, alluding to the forthcoming 2020 election.

“It will get increasingly more political as a result of we get nearer and nearer to the election,” the U.S. president mentioned.

However issues are shifting forward, in accordance with U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who allayed worries earlier this month that an ongoing impeachment inquiry into Trump wouldn’t delay approval of the deal.

It’s in Trudeau’s greatest curiosity to only signal on the dotted line when the time comes, mentioned Moshe Lander, an economics professor at Concordia College.

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“There’s nothing gained by poking the bear on this case,” he mentioned. “The fact is, say, for small tweaks right here and there; it’s just about the identical deal.”

Within the meantime, ratified or not, there’s no have to panic, mentioned Bruce Heyman, former U.S. ambassador to Canada.

“Don’t neglect we’ve got an present deal, and this present deal is working,” he mentioned. “That is meant to be an enchancment, and that’s what they’re working towards.”


It’s been greater than 9 months since Canada’s relationship with China took a nosedive.

Tensions between the 2 international locations sparked in December 2018 when Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief monetary officer of Huawei Applied sciences, on the request of the U.S.

Days later, China detained two Canadians. Chinese language officers declare it was for unrelated causes.

The Trudeau Liberals have been beneath immense stress to resolve the state of affairs.

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“It’s a complicating issue going ahead,” mentioned Heyman, who served as ambassador in the course of the Obama administration. “I feel the present president continues to make it extra sophisticated for Canada.”

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Trump has provided to mediate issues between Canada and China, however his relationship with China is much messier. The world’s two largest economies have been locked in a year-long commerce battle, with tariff hikes weighing on international financial development.

The 2 sides have made progress in latest weeks however haven’t sealed a deal.

“Canada is caught within the crossfire of the battle,” mentioned Sands.

four:46Federal Election 2019: Trudeau outlines relationship with U.S., China

Federal Election 2019: Trudeau outlines relationship with U.S., China

“That’s clearly an enormous problem due to the 2 Canadians being held hostage in China, however there’s additionally the consequence on Canadian agricultural merchandise which can be being hit by China.”

Different Chinese language stress on Canada has come within the type of limitations on key exports, comparable to canola merchandise, soybeans, peas and meat.

“It’s a difficulty that a variety of Canadians are fairly anxious about,” mentioned Sands.

What ought to Trudeau do on the file?

“Follow our quote-un-quote conventional Canadian values,” steered Lander.

1:23U.S.-China commerce tensions nonetheless simmer after deal

U.S.-China commerce tensions nonetheless simmer after deal

Whereas Canada might not “dictate the worldwide agenda,” Trudeau has the distinctive alternative to advertise “smooth energy” by creating alliances, he mentioned.

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Canada isn’t large enough to face up among the “vitriol” coming from China, he added, and it’ll do no good for the Liberals to reply with comparable powerful speak.

“On the worldwide stage, the world may be very totally different than in Pierre Trudeau’s time, Jean Chretien’s time, Mulroney’s time. It’s way more bruising. It’s way more divided. Canada goes to have a tough time pushing an open agenda when the large performs on the stage are closed,” he mentioned.

“We should always promote that open facet of that open-closed divide and ensure we’re, at the very least, close to the entrance line of that, particularly when the U.S., Britain and China all appear to be wavering on it.”  

Ambassador … who?

A smaller-scale problem, as Sands factors out, is the dearth of U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Kelly Craft was final to carry the job. As U.S. ambassador to Canada, she performed a task in facilitating the brand new NAFTA settlement and was concerned in attempting to free the Canadians detained in China.

Craft was appointed in August 2017 however assumed the function of ambassador to the United Nations in September, changing Nikki Haley. The function has been empty ever since. 

“Sometimes, that doesn’t matter, but when the U.S. authorities modifications, that’s necessary, and it’s simply as necessary to the Canadian authorities,” mentioned Sands.

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“We’re going into a tough time and not using a senior U.S. consultant to assist handle the tensions on all these items.”

2:03Kelly Craft questioned on 300 days absent from publish as ambassador to Canada.

Kelly Craft questioned on 300 days absent from publish as ambassador to Canada.

On the flipside, Canada solely has an appearing ambassador to the U.S., Christopher Hillman, whose standing as deputy ambassador was rolled into appearing ambassador after the departure of David MacNaughton. 

Sands mentioned it will be helpful for the Liberals to repair that shortly.

“If there’s rigidity, the standard staff captains for managing it should not there,” he mentioned.

“No person may decide up the telephone and get the president and the prime minister straight on the telephone and say: ‘OK, how can we not let this get out of hand?’ As a substitute, it’ll be Twitter diplomacy, most likely getting in each instructions.”


The consultants all agree on one factor — the unpredictability of the person within the White Home will proceed to pose a serious problem to Trudeau. 

“The issue Canada faces is just not distinctive to Canada,” mentioned Heyman. “The issue is that we’ve got essentially the most radical, unpredictable individual as president of the USA. It’s the unpredictability that makes it difficult. I’d say we’ve got difficult relationships with allies all over the world.”

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Trudeau’s relationship with Trump has seen ups and downs. 

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Between tumultuous commerce negotiations and tariffs, it grew significantly tense in June 2018 when Trudeau mentioned Canadians wouldn’t be “pushed around” by the U.S. over tariffs on aluminum and metal. Trump responded by calling the prime minister “dishonest” and “weak.”

Trudeau not often waded into U.S.-Canada relations in the course of the marketing campaign. 

Trump steered clear as properly and appeared hesitant when requested to touch upon the blackface scandal that plagued Trudeau’s re-election, saying solely that he was “stunned.”

He was, nevertheless, fast to congratulate Trudeau for his victory Monday evening, saying “Canada is properly served” beneath his management, maybe telling of the connection’s present local weather. 

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“I sit up for working with you towards the betterment of each our international locations!” the president wrote. 

However the focus shouldn’t be Trump if the Liberal authorities desires to maintain on good phrases with the U.S., in accordance with Lander. 

“I feel whoever’s in cost wants to acknowledge that the buddies are in Congress and never within the White Home,” he mentioned.

Lander pointed to the U.S.-Canada metal debacle for example of how this works.

“The Canadian authorities began lobbying by means of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, saying: ‘You have to rein in your president. We don’t have the capability to try this. We want you to use stress,’” he mentioned. “I feel that works, the place they began focusing on key members of the Home and Senate, making use of tariffs again on them.”

zero:26‘I’m stunned’ Trump feedback on Justin Trudeau blackface controversy

‘I’m stunned’ Trump feedback on Justin Trudeau blackface controversy

However issues may change in 2020, as a brand new presidential marketing campaign is already in full swing and will very properly dish up a brand new Home and Senate with which the Trudeau Liberals must contend.

“At this level, at this time’s benefit could possibly be tomorrow’s drawback,” he mentioned. “I feel he simply wants to acknowledge that your mates are there, and that’s the place it is advisable apply stress.”  

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