Canadians hold their breath as Trump ‘thinks’
By Eribert Loehner in Vancouver
Last year at this time, most Canadians were spellbound by the carnivals that are the US primaries; conventions used to select candidates for the presidential election.
The Republican Party chose Donald Trump. I didn’t think he had a chance. Most Canadians think Trump is a buffoon, yet his rallies would draw a huge number of supporters. I could not understand why Americans felt that only he could make America great again.
And Trump’s threat to tear-up the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico made Canadians’ hearts stop.
Big Brother is vital to Canada
The US is Canada’s largest trading partner. It is difficult to overstate the level of integration between the Canadian and US economies. If the eight Great Lake States and the Province of Ontario were combined, they would form the world’s third largest economy.
Just imagine Canadians’ disbelief when Donald Trump actually won the election. The question that came to my mind on election night was “Now what?” Watching Mr. Trump’s acceptance speech I felt the same question was on his mind.
For the most part, Trump supporters are ordinary American citizens. They used to have a job, a house, a car and a child at university; they were living the American dream. They had hope for the future and their children’s future.
Then slowly one factory at a time
their work, house, car and then even their hope slipped away. Donald Trump said things that addressed what these people felt. His talk was the life preserver that floated to the surface after their ship sank.
However, Trump’s crude language and unapologetic racial and religious intolerance also emboldened misogynist, racist and xenophobic crackpots. This vocal minority feels their hateful rhetoric is now acceptable.
So, how has the Trump presidency affected Canada? Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it clear that “Diversity is our strength!” and that Canada would not follow the US policy limiting Muslim refugees or immigration.
Canadian crackpots rejoice
Trump, however, also emboldened crackpots in Canada. Hate leaflets have been delivered around city neighbourhoods; though usually at night. On January 20th a man with a gun entered a mosque in Quebec City. He killed six men who were praying and injured a further eighteen.
In the US, White House spokesman Sean Spicer stated this is precisely the kind of violence President Trump wants to prevent by restricting Muslims from entering the US.
In this case, however, the Muslims were the victims and the perpetrator was a domestic Canadian who also happened to be a Trump follower. It was the usual official-poppycock now emanating from Washington with which Canadians have become familiar.
A billion dollars of trade a day
Leading up to a recent meeting between Trudeau and Trump there was much concern over Trump’s anti-North American Free Trade Agreement stance.
One billion dollars in trade and 400, 000 people cross the US/Canada border every day.
Any cross-border restrictions could devastate both economies. While much of Trump’s anti-NAFTA rhetoric targets Mexico, there was fear that Canada could inadvertently be sideswiped should the agreement be torn-up.
Most US States that border with Canada voted for Donald Trump; most have Republican congressmen who know the value of Canadian trade to their states and they made this very clear to the president.
After the meeting with Trudeau, Trump said that NAFTA would not be torn-up; it would be “tweaked” to benefit both countries.
There has been an on-going technical analysis as to what exactly “tweaked” means, but I’m pretty sure it means “Let’s not do anything”.