He’s been in the White House for six months, but Canadian politicians are still figuring out how to navigate the waters of his presidency.
Donald Trump is the least popular American president in 70 years, according to a recent Washington Post poll, and the most active ever on Twitter.
Colin Robertson, Executive Fellow at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, said our leaders have had to step up and play the game the way Americans play it, but we’ve found more allies than expected.
“There’s a lot of people who see value and gain from the current North American Free Trade Agreement, particularly in the farm community and that’s what, I think, convinced Trump at 100 days, not to just completely tear up the agreement,” he said.
Robertson said Trump’s unpredictability has posed a challenge for countries around the world.
“We’re going in one direction on climate, and Mr. Trump has basically called a dead stop — California, which is, of course, bigger both in population and economic power than Canada. They are very much in tandem with where we’re going, as are a number of other states,” he said.
When it comes to the head of state, Canada’s prime minister has approached with caution.
“I think the Trudeau effort to establish a very good working relationship with Donald Trump has actually paid off. He’s avoided confrontation,” he said. “When he’s spoken to the president, in fact, he’s said more frequently than he spoke to Barack Obama by telephone, the president has carried through.”
In fact, working with the Trump administration has brought together Canadian politicians for the greater good.
“We’re finding there’s broad unanimity, regardless of political stripe,” he said. “Whether it’s Premier Notley or Premier Wall, or any of the others, they’ve all been down there, (and) that strengthens the Canadian hand going into these negotiations.”
Robertson’s new report suggests Canada still need to step up on a global scale.
“We are going to have to move in to that gap, particularly in areas where the Americans under Trump are pulling out and that would include climate, that would include support for international organizations,” he said.
He also said more effort needs to be put in to reducing reliance on the U.S.
“You can’t change geography, nor would we want to — having preferred access to the United States will always be a top priority for Canada, but that doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t be seeking to diversify,” he said.