Really, a Trump-Trudeau axis?
When Mr Trump was elected, many Canadians wondered how our avant-garde “feminist” leader would deal with the new president, already known for outrageous actions and views. Canada has historically walked a very thin line between what we profess and what our American protectors expect of us. This would surely challenge that relationship.
Trudeau seemed to navigate these dangerous waters well. He marched right into the lion’s den and struck up a personal relationship with the Emperor, winning compliments – but all without much explanation.
As the months passed, we began to understand. There were approvals of pipelines to our coast and to the American south. There were the trade deals, first with the Europeans and now, it appears, with the Pacific Rim. Yes, Trump opposed these deals, but only, he made clear, when they did not advantage American interests. The whole NAFTA discussion has been bizarre – sure, everyone got interested in re-negotiating a better NAFTA. If that worked for the US, we figured, it could work in our favour too, and in our other partner’s favour. But these trade deals weren’t quite the bargain we assumed – the beneficiaries so far have been global corporations, and they’re largely American. Trudeau wasn’t questioning allowing these corporations to sue us, whenever our laws compromise their profits. Trudeau wasn’t talking about protecting our dairy farmers or softwood lumber producers; he was insisting on unspecified rights of women and Indigenous cultures, and for “environmental protections”.
This seemed odd, given Trudeau’s support of pipelines and of massive nuclear dumps in Ontario and Manitoba. He was pressing, he insisted, respect for women – to Donald Trump? And Aboriginal rights, after supporting the Dakota Access pipeline across native lands? Trudeau’s government soon grew hostile to China, Trump’s big target.
OK, we reasoned, both men are meeting on their support for American corporate hegemony. Finally, we understood something: it’s all about the economy, and the economy is all about US corporate profit leaking down to Canadians. Well, OK.
But we also noticed very little happening to undo our former government’s attack on the environment (regulations and approval processes), clean water, phone rates, and so on. We had just swallowed Mr Trudeau’s nasty retort to those of us who expected real and current voting reform. Still, Trudeau was talking nice.
And then foreign affairs caught Trump’s attention. He didn’t like North Korea (who does?); we held a bash-Korea conference. Trump was preparing, he said, to destabilize Venezuela because he didn’t like their leadership. Canada suddenly agreed. Venezuela was included as a “peacekeeping” option! Venezuela’s a nation in turmoil, but still a sovereign nation. And now we learn that Canada has downgraded its historical relations with Cuba – another of Trump’s new targets. Trudeau is using not the unexplained “sonic attacks” as a reason to back away from a profitable relationship, but using Trump’s unsubstantiated explanation for those “attacks”.
Whoa! Suddenly the Trump–Trudeau relationship seems much less benign than we ever expected. Just what do those men disagree on?