President Donald Trump’s “America first” inauguration speech prompted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make an emergency conference call Friday night to his provincial and territorial counterparts.
Trudeau was reportedly trying to convince Canadian premiers that his Liberal government is prepared to meet the formidable trade challenges that a Trump presidency presents, most importantly renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The Canadian media reaction to Friday’s inauguration ran the gamut from stoic pessimism to fear and anger. CBC commentator and Toronto Star journalist Sam Khanlari tweeted, “Might stay in the Trump Tower for a week. Piss on the walls and smoke weed.”
Trudeau tried to assuage fears of a trade war with the U.S. by emphasizing “the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship” and the “opportunities presented by the new administration.”
According to a statement from the prime minister’s office, “Together, we benefit from robust trade and investment ties, and integrated economies, that support millions of Canadian and American jobs. We both want to build economies where the middle class, and those working hard to join it, have a fair shot at success.
Canada’s conservative opposition is also trying to mend fences with its leader, Rona Ambrose, in Washington, D.C., for a week to meet with congressional leaders.
Calgary Conservative Member of Parliament Michelle Rempel told The Daily Caller that the Trudeau government remains a threat to the stability of Canada-U.S. relations because of the domestic policies of the Liberal Party.
“Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who the players are, who the prime minister sends to Washington, not when Trudeau’s policies are the polar opposite of Trump’s,” she said. Rempel, the minister of Western diversification in the previous Conservative Party government of Stephen Harper, singled out Trudeau’s proposed carbon tax as a policy that is both irreconcilable with the direction of the new administration and potentially catastrophic for the Canadian economy.
“I worry about the effect this tax would have on the economy and the effect it will have on the energy sector and the skilled, talented labor force that work in it,” she said.
Unnamed sources describe the conference call as positive and upbeat, and that Trudeau made a deliberate effort to ensure the premiers that negotiations between federal government ministers and bureaucrats are already underway and progress is being made. The prime minister encouraged the provinces to keep up their talks with state counterparts in order to promote Canada’s trade message.
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