NAFTA 2.0 has landed. But, Lawrence Martin writes, that doesn't mean there will be a rapprochement between Canada and the United States. That's because Canadians despise so much of what Trump stands for:
Though the trade problem has been alleviated, there is still so much more to oppose. There are his race-baiting proclivities and immigration policies which run counter to the diversity drive in Ottawa. There’s his attitude toward women – which is straight out of the 19th century. There’s the fact that he is an environmental ignoramus who is rolling back programs to address climate change.
There’s his nativist creed which threatens the international order and its institutions. There are his authoritarian impulses and his refusal to stand up to thugs like Vladimir Putin. There are his taxation policies which primarily enrich the rich, his opposition to gun control and his extreme rhetoric which divides rather than unites.
Mr. Trump doesn’t bear any animosity toward the Canadian people as such. He “loves” Canada, he says. But in terms of values, beliefs and hostile actions, no president has been more anti-Canadian. He is not about to change and if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to represent his population, his post-trade-deal approach with Mr. Trump must reflect its disdain.
In what ways can Canada show that disdain? Certainly not by reducing issues to name calling -- which is Trump's favourite mode of speech. There are much more meaningful ways to do it:
It means staking out Canadian ground in a firm clear manner. It means that even though Mr. Trump opposes the World Trade Organization, Ottawa should go ahead, as it is planning, and host a conference of 13 WTO countries later this month.
It means Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland should continue as per Canadian tradition to speak out loudly in support of multilateralism and collective security. If it rankles the U.S. State Department, good. It means, especially since Canada is a border country, registering more virulent opposition to Mr. Trump’s dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency.
It means pushing harder on trade diversification. It means carving out good relations with Congress and other key players other than the President. Ambassador David MacNaughton is planning a golf game with U.S. trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer. Good idea, especially if he lets the American win a couple of holes.
At some point Trump will be gone -- the questions are when and how. But, eventually, he'll sink back into the slime. Until then, Canada would be wise to maintain its strategic distance.