Canada never had chance against faith­less Trump

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - OPINION - AN­DREW CO­HEN

WASHINGTON — It had to come to this. Given the man and his meth­ods, is it any sur­prise?

We hoped oth­er­wise, that with good­will, gen­eros­ity and for­bear­ance — as well as com­merce, his­tory and ge­og­ra­phy — we could come to an un­der­stand­ing with Don­ald J. Trump.

We tol­er­ated his fears and his facts. We ig­nored his as­sault on the lib­eral in­ter­na­tional or­der: his re­sent­ment of NATO, his with­drawal from the Paris Agree­ment, the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship and the Ira­nian nu­clear deal. We ab­stained at the United Na­tions when he moved the U.S. Em­bassy to Jerusalem, much as we op­posed it.

We winced when he lied about his trade sur­plus with us. We stayed at the ta­ble when he made de­mands on NAFTA that no self-re­spect­ing na­tion could ac­cept.

We re­cruited Brian Mul­roney to se­duce him. We es­tab­lished a war room in Ottawa to map strat­egy. We created a women’s busi­ness fo­rum to flat­ter Ivanka Trump and in­vited her to at­tend Come From Away on Broad­way.

We sent cabi­net min­is­ters to court gov­er­nors. We im­posed a rigid dis­ci­pline across govern­ment: no tweets, no jibes. No one called this pres­i­dent “a mo­ron,” as Jean Chré­tien’s of­fi­cial did Ge­orge W. Bush; we left that self-ev­i­dent truth to Rex Tiller­son.

For 500 days, this is how Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau man­aged Pres­i­dent Trump. And af­ter the world’s great­est charm of­fen­sive since the Kh­mer Rouge flirted with democ­racy, this was our re­ward: a Twit­ter tantrum from Air Force One.

To Trump, “Justin” is now dis­hon­est, weak, crafty and treach­er­ous. And Canada — the Mister Rogers of na­tions — is a “back­stab­ber” and “dou­ble-crosser,” con­signed to hell.

All this heavy ar­tillery trained on lit­tle ol’ Canada?

Now Trump threat­ens more tar­iffs. Re­la­tions have not been this bad since a livid Lyn­don John­son grabbed Lester Pear­son by the lapels in 1965 and hissed, “You peed on my car­pet!” It takes tal­ent to “lose” Canada, but Trump may just do it.

For Canada, this may be a wa­ter­shed, invit­ing us to be­gin to di­ver­sify our trade more strate­gi­cally and pivot to Europe and Asia (which we have con­tem­plated for a gen­er­a­tion). It may be the mo­ment we say — with re­spect, of course — that enough’s enough. Three things are strik­ing here. The first is the sol­i­dar­ity across pol­i­tics. When Ja­son Ken­ney, John Baird and Doug Ford are “stand­ing shoul­der to shoul­der” with you, you’re do­ing some­thing right.

The truth is that eco­nomic na­tion­al­ism sells and so does stand­ing up to the Amer­i­cans. If noth­ing else, we’ll de­fend our dig­nity in the face of a pres­i­dent who is fonder of Kim Jong-un than of Trudeau.

The sec­ond is that Trump has handed Trudeau next year’s elec­tion. The prime min­is­ter now has a cause and a con­stituency casting him as Cap­tain Canada against the Amer­i­cans, much as his fa­ther was against the sep­a­ratists.

The third is our op­tions are lim­ited. We can im­pose mea­sured sanc­tions, dol­lar for dol­lar, and hope Trump will not re­tal­i­ate fur­ther. If he does, he will send our econ­omy into re­ces­sion.

One thing we know: Ne­go­ti­at­ing ra­tio­nally with a stud­ied ig­no­ra­mus is im­pos­si­ble. More than er­ratic or mer­cu­rial, he is sim­ply faith­less. He be­lieves in noth­ing and no one in love, friend­ship, busi­ness or pol­i­tics.

Trump sees the world only his way. He traf­fics in false­hood, hu­mil­i­a­tion and in­tim­i­da­tion. Against all that, we never had a chance. An­drew Co­hen is a journalist, pro­fes­sor and au­thor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.