Editorial: Trump time

Published on January 19, 2017

Donald Trump, shown in his Facebook page cover photo, will be sworn in as president of the United States Jan. 20, 2017.

The day has arrived, with many Canadians sharing a feeling of dread. Something dire might be about to happen. We have gloomy visions of our nation’s economic downfall.

It’s Donald Trump’s inauguration day as president of the United States.

Will a tsunami hit Canada, swamping us in an economic mudslide of American protectionism? Or will it be a gentle wave — demanding some concessions on the North American Free Trade Agreement and then leaving us to go about our business like we always have with our American neighbours?

There are fears Canada might become tantamount to roadkill, caught in the crossfire between the U.S., Mexico and China.

Then again, Trump is well aware the relationship between Canada and the U.S. is a special one. We are closely tied historically, culturally, militarily and in many other ways. Almost every Canadian has an American cousin or two. Trump’s forefathers panned for gold in the Yukon.

We’re allies, friends, cofounders of NORAD (we track Santa Claus together, for goodness sakes), and members of NATO. Surely Trump won’t take punitive measures to cripple our trade in oil, cars, fish and potatoes — it would hurt America as much as Canada.

Millions of Canadian snowbirds flock to southern U.S. states each winter. Millions of American visit Canada in the summer. Trump knows all this.

Already Canadian officials have met a number of times with Trump’s transition team to smooth any bumps in relations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has shuffled his cabinet and has a new Foreign Affairs minister — Chrystia Freeland — ready to deal more effectively with the United States.

The PM was smart to maintain neutrality during the U.S. election despite the country’s obvious philosophical lean towards Hillary Clinton.

The Canadian dollar is surging this week since Trump suggested the U.S. dollar is actually trading too high because of Chinese market and currency manipulation.

Trudeau has signalled a willingness to re-open NAFTA and address Trump’s concerns. Trump believes the trade deal was written by big corporations, solely for their benefit. American companies made decisions to move jobs and factories outside the United States without any thought for laid off workers. They were driven solely by profit and their goal is more profit.

Trump’s issue should be with those U.S. corporations and not with Canada and Mexico.

“There is no relationship in the entire world quite like the Canada-U.S. relationship,” Trudeau said in a goodwill video he tweeted to every elected U.S. politician earlier this month.

“We’ve built an economic relationship that supports jobs in every congressional district. We’re the largest international customer for goods and services made in the U.S.A.”

That’s certainly the kind of diplomatic language that Trump understands.

Guess we’ll all have to wait and see if, in the coming days and months, the tenor of our shared conservation stays civil, or whether Trump continues down the divisive path of agitation and aggression.