Trudeau is adapt­ing to a shift­ing geopo­lit­i­cal land­scape.

The Trudeau gov­ern­ment is po­si­tion­ing it­self as the cham­pion of Canada — from trade to tanks — in a shift­ing world or­der

Investment Executive - - FRONT PAGE - BY GORD MC IN TOSH

your guess is as good as mine as to how much of For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land’s “New World Or­der” speech will re­sult in tan­gi­ble po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal by the time the 2019 elec­tion rolls around. But, clearly, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s gov­ern­ment has once again adapted its play­book to a shift­ing geopo­lit­i­cal land­scape.

The Lib­er­als seem to be road-test­ing a new, “good cop, bad cop” strat­egy in­volv­ing Trudeau and Free­land. She will be say­ing things that Trudeau, the world’s poster boy for sunny ways and new-style pol­i­tics, can’t af­ford to say. If that is true, the son has learned some­thing his fa­ther never did.

Free­land al­ready has a rep­u­ta­tion as a bit of a brawler. And Trudeau doesn’t want to be­come one of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­fault tar­gets as Ger­many’s chan­cel­lor, An­gela Merkel, has — even if that means Trudeau is la­belled as an ap­peaser, as he was re­cently in Ger­many’s me­dia.

Ex­am­ples of tough lan­guage in Free­land’s now fa­mous speech in­clude Amer­i­cans de­cid­ing to “shrug off the bur­den of world lead­er­ship” or how Canada doesn’t want to be a “client state” by be­ing de­pen­dent on the U.S. for de­fence and se­cu­rity.

There were three key mes­sages in her speech about Canada’s place in a world in which U.S. power is no longer as dom­i­nate as it once was:

Canada ro­bustly sup­ports the rules­based in­ter­na­tional or­der and global in­sti­tu­tions such as the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund, NATO, the United Na­tions or the Paris Cli­mate Ac­cord while seek­ing ways to strengthen and im­prove them.

Canada will boost our long-de­pleted de­fence bud­get to de­fend our in­ter­ests at home and abroad, in­clud­ing in North Amer­ica.

Canada re­mains a free trader and co­op­er­a­tor re­gard­less of what the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion does. (Read that as mov­ing closer to Europe, and not just be­cause of our free trade agree­ment with coun­tries there.)

None of those points should be a sur­prise. What is sur­pris­ing is the lan­guage of a min­is­ter who is sup­posed to be in charge of diplo­macy.

She is send­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion a mes­sage that there is a fist in­side Canada’s vel­vet glove, and that Canada is look­ing ahead to what a post-U.S. world will look like. And, no, Canada doesn’t view trade as a game of win­ners and losers, which Trump — and far too many in Washington, D.C. — clearly does. To Canada, ev­ery­body is sup­posed to win with height­ened trade.

Much of Free­land’s speech was as­pi­ra­tional: those who gov­ern to­day are just as un­cer­tain about these times as the rest of us. But maybe just as much of it was strate­gic, with the aim of putting Canada and its Lib­eral gov­ern­ment in the best pos­si­ble po­si­tion for what­ever does come. Trump may not sur­vive as pres­i­dent but some form of Trump­ism likely will.

Look­ing away from a pro­tec­tion­ist U.S. and closer to Europe (at least, the en­light­ened parts of it) seems like the log­i­cal place to be­gin re­build­ing a trade strat­egy.

On the do­mes­tic front, Trudeau is now be­ing lumped in with Merkel and France’s pres­i­dent, Em­manuel Macron, as one of the three ami­gos of open and healthy democ­racy. Not a bad place to be.

Not only will the is­sue of who is the best de­fence against Trump (or Trump­ism) be a bal­lot is­sue in Canada’s 2019 elec­tion, but vot­ers will be mind­ful of the messy state of pol­i­tics in Bri­tain and thus seek sta­bil­ity. This is why the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tives aren’t talk­ing much about their cousins south of the bor­der. Nor is their new leader, An­drew Scheer, say­ing much at all be­yond his “Aw shucks, I’m just a boy from Saskatchewan” rou­tine.

A dan­ger i n the Lib­er­als’ “big pic­ture” strat­egy is that Cana­dian vot­ers could de­cide their gov­ern­ment is a lit­tle too worldly. This may be why the Lib­er­als rushed for­ward i n May with an air­line pas­sen­ger bill of rights af­ter Air Canada showed off its ge­nius for up­set­ting cus­tomers.

In­creased de­fence spend­ing is coming at the ex­pense of for­eign aid. Mil­len­nial vot­ers may not re­mem­ber the Lester Pear­son years of gen­er­ous for­eign pol­icy, but enough vot­ers will to pose a threat of votes leak­ing to the NDP. The Con­ser­va­tives al­most al­ways gain when the NDP rises. The Lib­er­als are dress­ing things up as “fem­i­nist for­eign aid.” But that may not be enough.

Watch for some sort of unity dis­play by Trudeau, Merkel and Macron at the G20 sum­mit in Hamburg on July 7-8.

A dan­ger is that vot­ers could de­cide the Lib­er­als are a lit­tle too worldly

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