Reproductive rights, free trade, facts.
It’s been just a week since Donald Trump took office and the American president has already set a furious pace for reform south of the border that will have long-lasting impacts north of the 49th.
Canada’s neighbour and largest trading partner is in new territory politically — and without a map it would seem. That is already changing the Canadian social, political and economic landscape right along with it. Eight ways Trump is casting his shadow north:
Trump revived this week the Keystone XL pipeline project rejected by Barack Obama. The pipeline would connect the Alberta oilsands with the U.S. Gulf coast and Trump’s reversal was welcomed in many Canadian quarters, including the Liberal cabinet.
The 2,000-kilometre, $8-billion project would carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day from landlocked Alberta to a lucrative new market in Texas.
The project drew protests throughout the U.S. and Canada prior to Obama’s nix, and Trump’s executive order is sure to spark a new wave of conflict.
TransCanada Corp. wasted no time, submitting this week a new application to the U.S. State Department.
- The Wall
On Wednesday Trump made good on his campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, signing an executive order authorizing construction of the wall. It also called for 10,000 more immigration officers and 5,000 border patrol agents.
The move set off a war of words with former Mexican president Vicente Fox.
“Mexico is not going to pay for that (f——) wall,” Fox wrote on Twitter.
And current Mexican President Enrique Pena cancelled a planned trip to Washington in light of the wall talk and calls for a tariff on Mexican goods to pay for it. (The two spoke by phone Friday instead.)
The rapidly deteriorating relationship between our North American roomies may not bode well for NAFTA or North America in general.
One week in and Trump has signed executive orders prioritizing the deportation of any of America’s 11 million undocumented immigrants convicted or even charged with any criminal offence. The order will also withhold federal funds from any so-called “sanctuary cities” that do not actively deport illegal immigrants.
A leaked draft order bans immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim countries: Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Iran, Libya and Sudan. Critics, including NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, call it a precursor to Trump’s oft-mused Muslim registry for the U.S.
Some Canadian border cities already report an influx of mostly Muslim refugee claimants from south of the border. There have also been reports of huge increases in the number of American citizens seeking information on emigration to Canada.
- Trans-Pacific Partnership
On his first full day in office Trump signed an executive order pulling the U.S. out of this global trade deal five years in the making. That effectively killed the controversial deal involving 12 Pacific Rim nations, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
The deal, meant to counter China’s growing trade influence, represented 40 per cent of global trade, but Trump was far from alone in his criticism of the pact.
“We are going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that have taken everybody out of our country and taking companies out of our country,” Trump said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the deal can’t go ahead without the U.S., but Canada will pursue trade agreements with nations that were signatories to the TPP and others.
The larger issue in the death of the TPP is Trump’s American protectionist proclivities and how they might affect Canadians exports to our largest trading partner.
He campaigned on it, and, within days of taking office, Trump reiterated that he will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico “at the appropriate time.”
The U.S. president says he hopes to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Pena in the next month to begin discussions of a renegotiation.
It won’t be as easy as the pen stroke that obliterated the TPP, because NAFTA has been ratified into U.S. law, but Canadian businesses and bureaucrats are bracing themselves.
Since the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement came into force in 1989, trade in goods and services with the U.S. has more than tripled. Every day, $2.4 billion in goods and services are exchanged across the world’s longest shared border, according to the federal government.
- Climate Change
Trump’s pick for chief of the Environmental Protection Agency questions the science on manmade climate change. That says a lot.
And Trump has said he will pull the U.S. out of the landmark Paris climate accord reached last year.
In practical terms, it undoubtedly means the U.S. will not be joining in any emission-reduction efforts such as a carbon tax or draw-down of fossil fuels any time soon, which could put Canada in a competitive pinch as well as make it less likely the world can achieve the target reductions in the absence of any co-operation from the globe’s second-largest polluter.
- Abortion gag-order
One of Trump’s first acts as president was to ban U.S. federal funding for international NGOs that provide abortion services or advocate for reproductive choice. The so-called “global gag-rule” leaves a US$600-million funding shortfall for dozens of impoverished nations.
The Netherlands has pledged to set up a fund to make up for the shortfall and the Dutch have already reached out Canada for a commitment to help.
- Alternative facts
When Trump press secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters that the crowd at Trump’s inauguration “was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period,” it was met with guffaws around the globe. With photos of the event clearly showing otherwise, Trump advisor-in-chief Kellyanne Conway admitted Spicer was presenting “alternative facts.”
Already, Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has been compared to Trump for her “Canadian values” campaign. And Tory leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary has been called “Trump lite” for his reality TV past and blustery approach.
Time will tell if the Trump team’s media tactics will take root in our political landscape.