This week Canadians woke up to the generally unexpected and surprising news that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will soon occupy the White House.
On top of this, the Republican Party also remains in control of both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, suggesting at first glance Trump may well have a clear path to implement much of his agenda.
The single largest question and concern I am hearing this week is “What does this all mean for Canada”?
The answer to this question is of course unknown at this point, however some early speculation and concern does point to several possibilities. Possibly the most obvious is that Trump, much like many of the elected Republican leaders in the U.S. government, have long stated support for approving the Keystone XL pipeline project.
It should not be forgotten that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also been a strong supporter of this particular pipeline and in fact has past travelled to Washington, DC in support of this pipeline getting built. While some in Canada will see this is a positive economic development other Canadians will certainly be in opposition.
Related to the Keystone XL pipeline is environmental concerns, specifically that it is widely expected President elect Trump will not implement a mandatory Carbon Tax in the United States much less ratify the Paris Accord as the Liberal government is currently doing in Canada. As a result this will make Canada less competitive as a manufacturing jurisdiction in some sectors and given President Trump’s often demonstrated projectionist views opposing trade this may be an area of concern.
Obviously, given that the United States is Canada’s largest trading partner, any changes that discourage or diminish trade relations may have serious economic consequences on our side of the border. As an example currently Canada has a critical need for a new softwood lumber deal with the United States and it remains unclear what, if any, progress our Liberal government has made on this file.
Trade issues aside, Trump has also indicated that the United States will have a greater expectation of increased contributions from NATO members such as Canada. While it is unclear what type of increase may be contemplated given Canada’s current fiscal state of significantly rising deficit budgets with no return to balance any increased financial pressure will not be welcome.
Having voiced several concerns I also believe that the United States cannot become completely isolationist meaning it is unlikely the strong trading relationship between Canada and the United States will not be fiscally severed. Likewise if the United States is reluctant to enter into trade and investment agreements with other nations this may well open other opportunities for Canada to step into.
My final point is one of cautious optimism given that Trudeau repeatedly and wisely avoided entering into commenting on the U.S. election and as such I would expect should receive an open welcome to sit down with Trump.
The United States, like all nations, will need allies and there is no question that the Canada-United States relationship has been one of the strongest and most successful in the world. I believe it is in the national interest of both of our nations to ensure this relationship continues.
As always I welcome your comments, questions and concerns on this or any issue before the House of Commons. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.