OK, first, Canadians need to solve their own case of cranial-rectal inversion … I know, I know the pictures is the Liberal foreign and defence policy stance, but the cranial-rectal inversion graphic is a bit rude. Let’s just admit that our American friends and neighbours just “copy-catted” us and elected an unqualified, untested celebrity to lead their country. Step one is to grow up and accept the obvious, as I said yesterday.
The next step is to overcome what John Ivison, writing in the National Post, described as “A combination of wishful thinking and the received wisdom that … has left the Canadian government scrambling to respond to this new reality.“
Prime Minister Trudeau has congratulated President (elect) Trump, saying, according to his own web site that:
“Canada has no closer friend, partner, and ally than the United States. We look forward to working very closely with President-elect Trump, his administration, and with the United States Congress in the years ahead, including on issues such as trade, investment, and international peace and security.
“The relationship between our two countries serves as a model for the world. Our shared values, deep cultural ties, and strong integrated economies will continue to provide the basis for advancing our strong and prosperous partnership.”
It seems to me that two issues that Prime Minister Trudeau didn’t mention will come, rather quickly, to the fore:
- Climate change; and
- Defence burden sharing.
It will not matter what anyone, least of all Canada, says at COP 22 in Morocco, I think the world will now have to come to grips with the fact that the United States does not have a climate change agenda any more. President (elect) Trump is, according to NBC News, “an avowed climate change skeptic who has pledged to rip up the Paris agreement.” Some may claim that the Paris Agreement is too complex to untangle and “tear up,” but I suspect that the Americans will, simply, ignore it … there are no sanctions. Canada, Canadians and Prime Minister Trudeau will have to get used to this fact.
Trying to make Canada green while we live next to a carbon spewing industrial power 10 times our size is foolish.
I have discussed the burned sharing problem before, more than once, and I stick with my prediction that “The next US president, whoever (s)he might be, facing an ongoing revenue/spending crisis, is going to look hard at military burden sharing and NORAD and Canada will be in his/her sights.” Well, we now know it’s him, not her, and we can guess that he will be looking to allies to do more so that he can scrimp a bit on the defence budget to keep some of his promises.
Put very simply, a prudent Canadian government should, right now, be looking at how to spend more, probably a whole lot more ~ maybe double what we do now, on national defence while backing away from (practically) useless climate change spending; climate change rhetoric is fine, and it’s cheap, but billions and billions and billions more for defence has to come from somewhere.
As Campbell Clark points out in the Globe and Mail: “Donald Trump, the surprise winner of the U.S. presidential race, has promised to rip up many of the things Canada has tried to nail down .. [for example… With Mr. Trump in power in the United States, Mr. Trudeau would find it harder to sell his own climate-change policies in Canada … [and] … That means misaligned cross-border leadership. Pierre Trudeau’s foreign policy was at odds with that of Ronald Reagan, and Jean Chrétien did not go to war in Iraq when George W. Bush called. But Mr. Trump is a figure who is, at the moment, so toxic in Canada that Mr. Trudeau has to wonder if he would lose by inviting him to a meeting on Parliament Hill … But, of course, he has to. Mr. Trudeau was right to avoid talking down Mr. Trump during the election campaign. It is still in Canada’s interest to build the relationship … [and] … There are still things to build on. Cross-border security arrangements are important to both. NORAD, the bilateral military air defence alliance, is still valued. It is an alliance Mr. Trump has not criticized … [further] … In fact, Mr. Trump has not criticized Canada much at all. In a scattershot campaign where foreign nations were targets, Canada was not one of them. This country could be the starting point for Mr. Trump to build a friendly side to foreign policy – at least Mr. Trudeau has to try to make it so, and hope it is a way to make Mr. Trump’s America more predictable.“
The right thing for Prime Minister Trudeau to do, the smart thing to do, is to stretch out a hand of friendship towards President (elect) Trump by announcing that Canada will pick up a measurably larger share of the continental and allied defence burden. He doesn’t have to go to 2%, yet, but he should beat Mr Trump to the punch be offering to share more of the burden before being asked. Then he is in a better position to argue for open borders and free(er) trade.
Other factors that will need more attention include:
- Immigration and border security;
- The CF-18 replacement;
- Trade with China; and
- Pushing the TPP.
Our trade and social and political and military relationships with the USA are the largest, freest and more valuable in the whole world. They are far, Far, FAR more important to Canada than climate change, refugees and a second class seat on the worthless UN Security Council combined. Prime Minister Trudeau must not mess it up.