Canadians want Trudeau to stand on guard for economy: poll

Photo from CP
Photo from CP

A majority of Canadians want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stand up to Donald Trump, even if it leads to a U.S.-Canada trade dispute, a new poll says.

The poll, conducted by Nanos for the Globe and Mail, found that 58 per cent of Canadians would support a trade war if the Trump administration imposed new tariffs on Canadian exports, suggesting general disapproval of proposals to renegotiate NAFTA.

According to Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, Trudeau will be in Washington next week to discuss a range of policy issues with the U.S. president. And several Canadian cabinet ministers are in the U.S. capital this week to meet with their counterparts and develop new relationships with new ‘America First’ Trump administration.

Trade has been the biggest topic so far with Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland meeting with high-ranking members Republicans from the House of Representatives like Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain.

“It’s kind of a recognition that there is going to be unavoidable conflict with the Trump administration on trade,” Nik Nanos said to the Globe and Mail. “When Canadians see the type of leadership style from Donald Trump, they realize that the only way to respond to him is assertively and confidently, even if it means a trade war. Even though we are a small trading partner, many Canadians believe the [trade] war is coming.”

The majority of Canadians, however, believe that the Trudeau government can protect their economic interests once NAFTA renegotiations begin with 57 per cent expressing confidence.

An additional 53 per cent of those surveyed in the poll also opposed corporate tax cuts similar to those being proposed by Trump.

What’s more, Freeland’s office said the minister emphasized Canada’s importance to Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin during her meetings in Washington.

“They discussed the $1-billion in exports to Canada from the Speaker’s district, as well as the fact that 35 states count Canada as their No. 1 customer,” her office said in a statement.

Freeland will also meet with newly appointed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson On Wednesday, where trade is also expected to be a hot topic.

Finance Minister Bill Moreau and Defence Minsiter Harjit Sajjan are also pitching Canada as a valued trading partner, noting that new tariffs would restrict trade and act as a punishment.

No exact date has been announced to kickoff NAFTA talks, but Trump has commented on numerous occasions that renegotiating the trade agreement remains one of his top priorities.