Canada remains a vital American ally
This editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The visit to Washington Monday of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems to have gone relatively smoothly, in spite of the general fireworks underway surrounding Michael Flynn, the White House National Security Adviser who was forced to resign that evening. Trudeau could easily have found the storm involving President Donald Trump, Flynn and Russia of considerable concern. Canada shares closely the defence of the north of North America with the United States, is a fellow NATO member, and is as close geographically to Russia as the United States is.
He might also have looked uneasily at Trump’s falling out with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, which led to his cancellation or — we can hope — postponement of his scheduled visit to the United States to meet with Trump.
The problems between Mexico and the United States, turning in part on immigration, are different from those between Canada and the United States, although Trump should not forget that renegotiation of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement would involve Canada as well as Mexico.
If part of Trump’s concern over immigration — reflected in his attempted ban on travel to the United States by citizens of the seven Muslim-majority countries, currently tied up in U.S. courts — is security, Canada’s more “open door” approach to immigrants, especially from war-torn nations including Syria, is decidedly different and potentially riskier than the one Trump is attempting to pursue.
Trump and Trudeau certainly had much to discuss. Apart from the travel that takes place across the long, largely undefended border, the two nations are important trading partners. Trudeau’s government’s approach to climate change is also different from Trump’s sofar stated position, notwithstanding the fact that North American air is shared air.
The effort at cordiality on the part of both leaders, in spite of their policy and age differences, is welcome to Americans and Canadians. Perhaps the next step should be a three-part meeting, to draw in Mexico’s president. Trudeau would want to see that; Trump should want to see it.