After I opined strongly about Trump’s abominable behaviour toward Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I began to wonder how the people of Canada viewed the incident. I asked Canadian friend John if he would write a guest post for me, and he graciously agreed. Thank you, John!
Trump’s Treatment of Trudeau – A Canadian Perspective
By John Fioravanti
For many months since the inauguration of Donald Trump, I have watched him behave poorly as he played to his base of supporters. I am dismayed that his enablers in the GOP party in Congress refuse to exercise their constitutional duty to oversee his decisions that are often based on ignorance of the facts and outright lies. I don’t think Donald Trump has many supporters or admirers in Canada.
To be honest, I am a supporter of Canada’s Liberal Party, which is ideologically in line with American Democrats. I voted for our local Liberal candidate and was overjoyed to see Justin Trudeau win a majority government in the House of Commons in October of 2015 – despite the smear campaign launched by the Conservative Party (like the American GOP) that featured many attack ads that belittled Trudeau personally. Trudeau ignored those attacks and ran his campaign on the issues.
It is fair to say that many Canadians were in shock and somewhat uneasy when Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016. His campaign attacks on the NAFTA accord have been unsettling. Free trade has been an economic boon to all three countries involved. Two facts that are irrefutable about our bilateral trade history: one, the USA buys more goods from Canada than from any other country in the world; and two, Canada buys more American goods than from any other country in the world. To say that the collapse of NAFTA would not hurt the US economy is preposterous. However, it would hurt Canada more.
Thinking about our historical relationship with America, I’m reminded of a quote by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who was Prime Minister from 1968 to 1984.
“Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”
No country in the world has impacted Canada more than the United States. In the late 18th and 19th Centuries, annexationist American troops invaded Canadian territory during the Revolutionary War and then three times during the War of 1812. After the Civil War, American negotiators demanded that Britain hand over the Canadian colonies in compensation for damages incurred when the British helped the Confederate government. These occurrences bred feelings of unease, suspicion, and outright fear of the United States among Canadians.
In the 20th and 21st Centuries, the relationship changed to a close friendship as we became more than business partners, but also military allies through two world wars, the Cold War, the Korean War, and the War on Terrorism. On 9/11, Canadian airports accepted flights unable to land in the United States. Gander, Newfoundland, a town of just 10,000, residents took almost 7,000 passengers into their homes for five days and treated them like family. The Broadway play “Come From Away” immortalizes this extraordinary act of kindness to total strangers. Canadians and Americans have a shared history in North America and now we have a shared popular culture – it is no wonder that Europeans cannot distinguish us from each other.
I have been a student of history my entire life and in my adult years, my focus has been on Canadian and American history. My second academic passion is the study of politics, so I am fairly familiar with the constitutions of both of our countries. In my lifetime, I witnessed nothing but deference and respect between our Prime Ministers and Presidents. Sometimes friendships sprang up between our leaders when they were ideologically in tune – like Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan, and Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama. On the international stage, we have always had each other’s backs.
It is for these reasons that I am shocked and dismayed by Donald Trump’s abysmal behavior towards Justin Trudeau. Yes, I felt personally offended by Trump’s outright lies and insults. At the same time, I felt extremely proud that Trudeau did not respond, in kind, to Trump’s remarks nor to the vile remarks made by Trump’s minions in the aftermath.
As an aside, my wife, Anne, and I had the good fortune to meet and chat briefly with our former Prime Minister, Paul Martin. He was PM for three brief years before being defeated by Conservative Stephen Harper. Since then, Martin has remained active within the Liberal Party and was a guest advisor at the G7 Summit. When I shared my views about Trudeau’s handling of the G7 fallout from Trump, he nodded sagely and assured me that he would pass that along to Justin Trudeau. It was such a thrill to spend a few moments alone with this kind and generous former prime minister!
My anger and disgust are not aimed at the American people. I understand how Trump operates. I followed the presidential election campaign very closely and I’ve seen how many Americans are also angry and disgusted with him and his abominable tactics. I also understand that Trump was defeated in the popular vote and that he has the approval of a scant 40% according to polls. By the way, Trudeau has the approval of 80% of Canadians according to recent polls for his stand against Trump’s tariffs. I can’t remember the last time a Canadian PM got an 80% approval rating for anything!
Many of my American friends have apologized and are concerned that this trade debacle will do irreparable damage to Canada/US relations. My response is that no apology is necessary – most of the American people did not behave badly. Trudeau and our Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, have continued to work towards a resolution of the tariffs and the NAFTA accord. It is our hope that our American cousins will lobby their Representatives and Senators to dissuade Trump from the path of a trade war with Canada and the other G7 countries.
Donald Trump will not change. He will continue to behave as he sees fit until the American electorate takes away his majorities in Congress and then removes him as President. I’m losing faith that the Mueller investigation will bring Trump down. I do not think Congress would impeach Trump no matter what Mueller reports. The remedy to the problem of Trump is to be found with the voters of America.