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Warmer Relations Expected From Canada's Trudeau

Warmer Relations Expected From Canada's Trudeau
Justin Trudeau (Getty)

By Tuesday, 20 October 2015 09:44 AM Current | Bio | Archive

With the stunning sweep of elections Tuesday by Canada’s Liberal Party, U.S.-Canada relations are likely to be warmer under incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau replaces Conservative Stephen Harper.

That's the opinion of several Canadian experts who spoke to me as results showed the Liberal capturing an absolute majority in parliament. The election made Justin Trudeau, son of his country’s longest-serving (15 years) Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, prime minister himself at age 43.

“Harper and Obama didn’t have a warm relationship — not at all,” Tamara Woroby, professor of economics at the Washington D.C.-based Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University. “There was not the instant rapport that U.S. presidents and Canadian prime ministers have had in the past, such as that which Ronald Reagan enjoyed with [Conservative Prime Minister] Brian Mulroney in the 1980s.

“And, quite frankly, Obama just didn’t seem interested in Canada at all.”

Like other Canadian experts, Woroby believes that the distance between Obama and Harper was primarily due to their difference on building the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S.

Like most Republicans in the U.S., Harper has called its construction a “no brainer.”

Despite a State Department assessment that Keystone’s impact on the environment is not dangerous, Obama remains an opponent.

In breaking with previous Liberal Party leaders, Trudeau vowed to fight for Keystone XL with the corollary that he will add new environmental policies at home that might convince President Obama to relent and grant the permit.

“So Keystone could now possibly be built if Trudeau can convince Obama that the environmental safeguards will work,” said Woroby.

“Relations will be warmer [between Washington and Ottawa] in part because Keystone won’t be the central part of the discussion,” said David Biette, director of the Polar Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in D.C. “And Trudeau truly believes in climate change, as President Obama does. They both have an understanding of this issue.” 

Harper had long been accused of ignoring the Kyoto international agreement, which sets targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2002, before he was prime minister, Harper wrote a letter denouncing what he called “the job-killing, economy destroying Kyoto accord” and branding it as “a socialist scheme.”

At a time when far-left political figures such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn are flexing political muscle on the Democratic left, Trudeau is more a centrist “third way” politician in the mold of Bill Clinton or former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Along with his pro-Keystone position, the Liberal leader has vowed to “stand up to bullies like Vladimir Putin.” Trudeau has also vowed to lower taxes on middle-income Canadians while raising taxes on the wealthiest citizens.

One expert feels this latter position may cause the incoming prime minister some problems with the U.S.

"The largest trade relationship in the world is between Canada and the United States,” Colin Craig, director of strategic communications for the Canada-based Manning Centre. “If a party is in power that wants to raise taxes and expand the size of government, obviously that will negatively impact Canada's economic fortunes. How significant that in turn impacts the U.S. remains to be seen."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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U.S.-Canada relations are likely to be warmer under incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
canada, election, trudeau
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 09:44 AM
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