By Matthew Bourgeon, Contributing Writer
81 percent of Canadians were worried about a Trump victory, according to the Huffington Post. The election of the Republican candidate in the Oval Office is, therefore, bad news for the people of Canada.
First of all, Trump has criticized Canada more than once during his campaign, and has affirmed allegations on Canada’s healthcare systems (one for each province), which turned out to be wrong. This did not help building a strong foundation for the new U.S.– Canada relations.
Indeed, if Hillary Clinton, as a former Secretary of State, already has good relations with the Canadian government, Trump is brand new in American foreign policy and does not know a lot about the nature of the U.S.– Canada relations.
Trade is the most significant issue at stake in the U.S.–Canada relationship. 35 out of 50 states in the U.S. have Canada as their biggest exports partner, while 70 percent of the Canadian exports are heading towards the United States.
Moreover, 1 job out of 7 in Canada relies on Canadian-American trade exchanges, which represent 2.4 billions of dollars per day.
Concerning this issue, Trump has promised to back out of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). He considers that NAFTA brought nothing good to the United States, and that if Canada and Mexico refuse to renegotiate the terms of the agreement in compliance with his will, the U.S. will withdraw from NAFTA.
Likewise, he announced to axe the TPP, in which Canada is deeply invested. As the TPP would have lower importations prices for Canada, it is also really important for Canada to have a healthy trade relation with the U.S.
On the energy and environmental policy, Trump is largely in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. On the one hand, it is good news for Canadian economy, since it will increase the importations of Canadian oil sands into the U.S. and will stimulate job creation in this sector, especially in Alberta.
On the other hand, it will also mean more risk of damages on North American biodiversity, as well as a growing dependence on oil in the continent. Besides, while almost 60% of Americans are in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, only 40 percent of Canadians are in favor of it, according to the Globe and Mail. Moreover, Trump wants to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement and cut off all of the environmental programs in the U.S.
Finally, concerning immigration, Trump’s future policies seem likely to complicate cross-border mobility between Canada and the U.S. Indeed, since Canada has welcomed more than 33,000 Syrian refugees on its territory, and that Trump wants to limit access to Muslims on U.S. territory, the access to Canada’s southern neighbor will probably be even more difficult.
Overall, Trump’s policies are, for the most part, protectionists. This could negatively impact the U.S. –Canada relations, mainly concerning trade between both countries.
But, according to TD economists Beata Caranci and Leslie Prestons, even though protectionist ideas are always present in American presidential campaign “when it comes time to govern, [presidents] frequently implement much more pragmatic policies that attempt to level the playing field rather than rewrite history”.
Therefore, it is a tough exercise trying to foresee the future of U.S. – Canada relations with the newly elected President Trump, as he is both unpredictable and inexperienced.