Laura Dawson, a Canadian academic, who is director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, has written a thoughtful opinion piece for the Globe and Mail. As befits someone who has a deep and thorough interest in trade and commerce she focuses on the trade aspects of the current Canada~USA imbroglio. “But,” she says, after reviewing parts of the long-standing Canada/US trade relationship, “in the era of MAGA, routine irritants are no longer dealt with routinely. Attacks lobbed by the White House at Canada and other allies have escalated from accusations of unfair trading to the imposition of punitive tariffs and threats to rip up key trade agreements. The White House dismisses rules-based frameworks for settling disputes as traps for suckers.” She pronounces herself disillusioned and she says “In the United States, political outrage has become a national sport, but Canadians don’t do outrage very well. Their anger goes introspective. There is now a growing sense that we’ve been duped into investing in a relationship that was never as strong as we thought it was. It is dawning on Canadians that Americans – or at least those in charge – don’t think much of us or think of us much at all. It is as though Canadians look at Americans through one end of a telescope – everything looks close up and large – while Americans look at Canadians through the other end of the lens – small, distant and unimportant … [and she adds] … I wonder if decision-makers in Washington, let alone the President, realize how Canadians are interpreting the recent developments, whether they care and whether they realize what the practical consequences may be.“
How are we, Canadians, “interpreting the recent developments?” How do we take to being told we should be ruined by US actions? That’s how countries talk to and about their enemies. Is that us? Are we America’s enemy? It sounds like it, to me. Do some of us, Canadians ~ rather a lot of my friends ~ still think President Trump is on the right rack in restoring America to ‘greatness?” Do my Canadian friends who are supporters of Donald J Trump agree with him that Canada is America’s enemy? That’s what he’s saying when he ruminates on ruination; that’s how we talk about our enemies, not our friends. What about my American friends, my former colleagues in various military and civil groups, friends who have been guests in my home and friends who have had my late wife and I as guests in their homes? How do they feel? Is Canada their enemy, too? Am I and our Australian and British and New Zealand colleagues now, also, enemies? We know that tens of millions of Americans still support President Trump and we know that thousands cheered his comments about bringing ruin to Canada.
I know how I feel … I’m not disillusioned, but I am chastened. I see, now, that while many (I’m going to say most) of the Americans with whom I worked over the last half century or so probably share most (at least many) of my globalist and liberal internationalist views, probably because they, like me, have the advantages of a pretty good education and probably because they, like me, have lived around the world and have seen, with our own eyes, the advantages that the global, liberal, international order brings to billions of people of every race and creed, many others, millions of others want to stamp on Canada, on my country and on me. Now I see than tens of millions of Americans don’t give a damn about us … it is like the 1930s all over again and those tens of millions of Americans are supporting a leader and a cause that is opposed to everything for which we Canadians have shed so much blood, all over the globe, over the past 120 years. Do I think Donald Trump and his supporters are Nazis? No, not at all … I doubt President Trump is more than just vaguely aware of Hitler and World War II and the Holocaust and all that; he is, it seems to me, only a semi-literate man; but I do believe that President Trump and his supporters are not bothered by the sorts of social and political excesses that fascists and Nazis and others have used over the past century to advance their totalitarian dreams. I suspect that in President Trump’s small, fevered brain there is a vision of America, bestriding the world, like a colossus … but that America, the one he wants to make great again, only existed for a brief flicker of time in the mid to late 1940s, when America’s wealth and power and real achievements were all unchallenged. The world is different now and while America is still great it will never, unless, perhaps, we have an even more devastating world war, be that “great” again.
What I can see, now, is that President Trump and tens of millions of his supporters have decided that I, and my family, and my friends and neighbours and my colleagues and my country are all enemies … mainly because we dare to challenge the whims of Donald the Great and Powerful. Now, please don’t get me wrong, my extreme distaste for President Trump, who I think is mentally and morally unsuited for any elected office, anywhere, does not lessen my disillusionment with my fellow Canadians who elected a vacuous, unqualified, trust fund kid to be our prime minister. Tens of millions of Americans may have been taken in by Donald J Trumps lies and bombast, but millions of Canadians decided that they were bored with competent, frugal, careful government and so they voted for a bumbling fool.
But, if we are the enemy, what are we to do?
Simple, it seems to me: make some new friends.
Let’s start with CANZUK. It is time to reach out to our most traditional allies, who are also bearing some of the brunt of President Trump’s enmity, to forge stronger trading and strategic relationships.
Lets build on the CETA ~ thank you Prime Minister Stephen Harper ~ with Europe, and get the new, enhanced, TPP on the road, soon … and yes, that’s going to cost us our dairy and egg supply management system.
Lets press for more and better trade links with Asia ~ perhaps we can persuade China and others to let us join the RCEP. But Asia wants out gas and oil … so we need to build pipelines to Canadian tidewater.
That doesn’t mean we turn or backs on America … it just means that we accept that, for now, and maybe for a wee while longer, too, America is in the grip of something of a bad dream. It is being led by an abominably stupid and willful wannabe tyrant who might just cause the whole world to slide into another great recession or even a depression, or worse. We must ‘sauve qui peut‘ in our trade and economic relations with America, despite the administration and we should work to remove some irritants where the Americans are in the right.
But, basically, for the next few years, until our American friends and neighbours wake up from this nightmare, we must accept that we are an enemy and act accordingly.
Step one is to wake up, ourselves, and in 2019, consign Justin Trudeau and his Liberals to the political trash heap, where they belong.