Trump’s America: Canadian Leaders Brace for a New Era
Donald Trump was sworn in today as the 45th President of the United States of America. And after listening to a week of testimony from the energy and environment officials for new President Trump, it is clear that Canada will be facing a very different relationship with the USA.
Just a couple months ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had every reason to be happy with the relationship. He was close with U.S. President Barack Obama, and the two saw nearly eye to eye on energy policy, in particular on the importance of fighting climate change.
Climate Change a Hoax
President Trump has said that climate change is a “hoax” made up by the Chinese to convince other countries to harm their economies with costly regulations.
Trudeau says he hopes to change Trump’s mind. He says he will start by arguing the science, but if that fails Trudeau hopes that Pres. Trump will be willing to support green energy because it creates jobs and the economy will benefit from a cleaner environment. Jobs have been a central focus for Pres. Trump.
Key American officials may be more open to Canada’s position than Trump himself, but only slightly. Pres. Trump’s nominees for key leadership positions must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and they recently presented their views in open testimony. Congressman Ryan Zinke, a former elite Navy seal from the rural state of Montana, has been nominated to head the Department of Interior.
That agency has dominion over America’s land holdings and relationships with Native Americans. He denied that climate change was a hoax, but said he would work to increase U.S. coal, oil, and gas production.He denied that climate change was a hoax, but said he would work to increase U.S. coal, oil, and gas production. Click To Tweet
Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency is Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of oil-rich Oklahoma. He has made his career fighting to stop environmental regulations issued by the agency he is poised to lead. He said he will enforce laws to fight climate change, but argued they should not happen in an “economic vacuum.”
Trump’s Department of Energy will likely be run by Rick Perry, the former Governor of Texas, another oil-rich state. He had once called for eliminating the agency, but now he says he will use it to pursue “sound science” on climate change to protect the environment and the economy at the same time.
Trump’s America Could be Good for Canadian Pipelines
On some issues, Pres. Trump may actually be a welcome change for Canada. According to Trudeau, the Keystone XL Pipeline was a hot topic during the first conversation between the two men.
Pres. Trump has nominated ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next Secretary of State, and that job has a tremendous role in the energy trade. He has long been a supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline and if he is confirmed his office will make final recommendations to President Trump on such projects.
Trudeau supports the pipeline, even though he is much less outspoken than Prime Minister Stephen Harper was. Tillerson also supports U.S. crude oil exports, and some U.S. crude goes to Canada even as Canada exports a great deal of crude to the U.S. Tillerson joined the rest of the nominees in acknowledging the reality of climate change, but showing skepticism over costly measures to fight it.
Trudeau Preparing to be a Friend
By all accounts, if there is one certain about Trump’s America, it is that there are few certainties. America’s policy stance on many issues is still unknown and the new President has proven to change his mind on topics rather quickly. But Trump’s America does definitely include a few common themes around climate change, trade and immigration, among others.
For his part, PM Trudeau recently shuffled his cabinet to better align with Trump’s America. For the moment, anyway, Trudeau would appear to be more interested in being a friend to the new President than opposing him on key issues. In fact, the Globe and Mail reported the PMO held talks with Trump’s inner circle in an effort to avoid a trade war.
It could be an interesting four years ahead.