Amer­i­cans say friendly ties with Canada will per­sist

The Welland Tribune - - Canada & World - VICKY FRAGASSO-MAR­QUIS

MON­TREAL — Don­ald Trump’s sharp com­ments against Canada over trade are just a blip in an oth­er­wise un­break­able, long­stand­ing friend­ship, say some Amer­i­cans liv­ing in the north­east­ern part of the coun­try near the Cana­dian bor­der.

“In the long term, what we have in com­mon as North Amer­i­cans will en­sure we over­come this pe­riod,” says John Tousig­nant, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Franco-Amer­i­can Cen­tre, based in New Hampshire.

Trump em­barked on a post-G7 Twit­ter tirade on the week­end against Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, call­ing him “dis­hon­est” and “weak” in the es­ca­lat­ing bat­tle over trade tar­iffs. The pres­i­dent’s sur­ro­gates piled on in Sun­day U.S. news shows, with Trump trade ad­viser Peter Navarro say­ing there was “a spe­cial place in hell” for Trudeau. Navarro apol­o­gized Tues­day. The jabs left a bit­ter taste with Phyl­lis Klein, owner of a ma­rina on Lake Cham­plain in up­state New York, where about half the clien­tele are Que­be­cers.

“I feel that it’s cer­tainly detri­men­tal to U.S.-Cana­dian re­la­tions to have this kind of rhetoric out there,” said Klein, 79, who has oper­ated her busi­ness for 38 years. She be­lieves Cana­di­ans un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween po­lit­i­cal rhetoric and the opin­ions of ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans.

“I find it dif­fi­cult to try to apol­o­gize for words that come from the mouths of peo­ple in our govern­ment, so I don’t even try.

“Be­cause they know that the words that are com­ing out of the pres­i­dent of the United States’ mouth are not nec­es­sar­ily the feel­ings of those of us who value our re­la­tion­ships with our neigh­bours to the north.”

In Ver­mont, where Trump is par­tic­u­larly un­pop­u­lar, a few choice words from him won’t keep peo­ple away from a pop­u­lar week­end get­away on ei­ther side of the bor­der, says one ob­server.

“There is a large in­flux both ways of peo­ple vis­it­ing,” said Aki Soga, reader en­gage­ment edi­tor for the Burling­ton Free Press. “Ver­mon­ters visit Canada, Cana­di­ans visit Ver­mont.”

Over­all there are con­cerns about how the rest of the world sees the U.S. glob­ally, he added. But as long as tar­iffs don’t have an effect on jobs in the state, the pres­i­dent’s words shouldn’t have a ma­jor im­pact, Soga said.

“I think the first-hand in­ter­ac­tion is likely to be a stronger fac­tor than any­thing the pres­i­dent says,” he said. “If it goes on for a while — and it would have to go on for a while — peo­ple might change their views, but I don’t think this one in­ci­dent is likely to have that effect.”

Many so­cial me­dia users echoed that sen­ti­ment Mon­day when the hash­tag #ThanksCanada was trend­ing on Twit­ter, cel­e­brat­ing Cana­dian con­tri­bu­tions while push­ing back against Trump.

In New Hampshire, which counts Que­bec as its largest trading part­ner and where nearly a quar­ter of the pop­u­la­tion has French-Cana­dian roots, Tousig­nant doesn’t be­lieve a few undiplo­matic words will do much to sour “cousin,’” re­la­tions.

“In the short term, we quar­rel from time to time and cer­tainly this is one of those quar­rel­some mo­ments,” Tousig­nant said, re­call­ing for­mer prime min­is­ter Pierre El­liott Trudeau, Justin’s late dad, had his own is­sues in 1971 with then-Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon, who re­ferred to the elder Trudeau as an “a... hole.”

Trudeau replied: “I’ve been called worse things by bet­ter peo­ple.”

That slight was a tem­po­rary is­sue and Tousig­nant be­lieves this will be, too.

Klein said ten­sions are nor­mal in any re­la­tion­ship, but even­tu­ally the frosti­ness sub­sides.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.