President Donald Trump has so unnerved Justin Trudeau that the Canadian prime minister has set-up a “war room” within his office to monitor what Liberal government insiders are calling “the unpredictable U.S. president” and to respond at a moment’s notice.
The team is led by long-time Liberal advisor Brian Clow, formerly chief of staff to foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland, and is designed to provide advice and quick responses to Trump’s trade policy, especially with regard to NAFTA.
Greg MacEachern, a senior vice-president at Environics Communications and former Liberal staffer told The Hill Times, “There’s not been a unit like this set up within the PMO to the best of my knowledge,” said MacEachern. “Obviously, the prime minister wants to be keeping a very close eye on this. … It’s an unprecedented situation in the U.S. we’re watching.”
MacEarchern says Trudeau is continuing his “campaign” to impress American decision-makers with experienced foreign policy and trade negotiators who can relate to their American counterparts while trying to keep all departments coordinate their activities and messages with the government’s overall trade objectives.
But if Trudeau is straining to appear moderate and cooperative for the new U.S. president, he is not being helped by former Liberal advisors like Warren Kinsella, president of the Daisy Group consulting firm and former policy and communications advisor to former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien.
While praising the war room concept and Clow’s management of it, Kinsella described the U.S. president as “a monkey with a machine gun. You need people who are tracking what’s taking place in the United States now and responding. You’ve got the president of the United States coming up with policy at three o’clock in the morning on Twitter, so the traditional bureaucratic response … none of that works anymore. You need a war room to respond to this guy, and I think that’s what the Trudeau guys have wisely set up.”