A Trump effect in Canada

In this post, I suggested that Great Britain’s refusal to join European governments in signing a joint agreement regarding negotiations for a two-state solution for Israel-Palestine may well be due to a “Trump effect.” Britain wants good relations with the new U.S. president. In particular, it would like a trade deal. Trump seems favorable disposed to negotiating one.

It makes no sense for Britain to jeopardize this state of affairs by casting its lot with the anti-Israel European bloc.

In Canada, too, a Trump effect seems to be taking hold. Almost immediately after the U.S. election, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau declared his willingness to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Trump has called the worst deal the U.S. has ever signed.

More recently, Trudeau has turned for advice to former prime minister Brian Mulroney (1984-1993) and to Derek Burney, a former ambassador to the U.S. (1989-1993). Mulroney was a member of Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party, a center-right party. So is Burney. Trudeau is a member of the Liberal Party, a more left-wing party.

When a liberal prime minister seeks counsel from conservative politicians from the early 1990s, that’s evidence of a Trump effect. So is the fact that Trudeau’s top aides, principal secretary Gerald Butts and chief of staff Katie Telford, have met with top Trump officials, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Further evidence comes in the form of a cabinet shuffle. Last week, among other changes, Trudeau replaced Stéphane Dion as foreign affairs minister.

Dion openly criticized Trump during the presidential election campaign. He said Canada could not accept the GOP nominee’s threat to ban Muslims from entering the US.

The new foreign affairs minister is Chrystia Freeland, formerly the international trade minister. Freeland was an economics writer for the Financial Times. She has lived in the U.S.

Freeland is of Ukrainian descent and has been a critic of Vladimir Putin. Indeed, she was among a group of Canadian officials sanctioned by Russia in 2014 in retaliation for Canadian sanctions against Russia. But members of Trump’s perspective cabinet have also criticized Putin in no uncertain terms.

Removing Dion seems like a manifestation of the Trump effect. More generally, CBC News says:

[T]he inauguration. . .U.S. president-elect Donald Trump [will] put new focus on the government’s handling of the Canada-U.S. relationship. A shuffle allow[s] Trudeau to move strong ministers into roles that are critical to that relationship, while also addressing some weaker performers.

It seems to me that the U.S. has left plenty of chips on the world table, especially during the America-effacing Obama years. We can expect Donald Trump to claim many of those chips. In his talks with leading officials of Great Britain and Canada, he may already be starting to.

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