Canada’s legendary ‘niceness’ tested by Trump’s G7 remarks
For the first time in decades, one of the world’s most durable and amicable alliances faces serious strain as Canadians – regarded as some of the nicest, politest people on Earth – absorb Donald Trump’s insults against their prime minister and attacks on their country’s trade policies.
Some Canadians are urging prime minister Justin Trudeau to seek peace with the US president. Many others want him to hang tough even as Mr Trump seeks to make political hay with his anti-canada rhetoric.
But there’s broad agreement with this assessment by The Globe and Mail newspaper: “Relations between two of the world’s closest allies are now at a perilous low.”
The spark for the confrontation: Not only did Mr Trump suggest new tariffs against Canada are justified on grounds of national security, but he and top aides also assailed Mr Trudeau at the G7 as a “weak and dishonest” back-stabber who deserves a place in hell.
For Canadians – who don’t totally reject their stereotyped image as self-effacing and nice – the eruption seemed completely at odds with their own national temperament.
Anne Marie Goetz, a Canadian who teaches global affairs at New York University, said she hopes her compatriots will show “maturity and forbearance” amid the tensions.
“But as these kinds of absurd statements and rude outbursts pile up, antagonism and resentment might too, which would be terribly unfortunate and even surreal for two of the best neighbours on the planet,” she said.
Resentment already is palpable. A popular Albertabased travel and culture blogger, Mike Morrison, said he and his wife have cancelled a trip to the US next month. In Halton Hills, a Toronto suburb, the City Council unanimously passed a motion on Monday encouraging its residents and businesses, with typical Canadian politesse, to consider avoiding US goods “where Canadian substitutes are reasonably available.”
“Trump is like a bad houseguest. He showed up late, left early and insulted the host,” said mayor Rick Bonnette. “When you have a bully like Trump, you can’t just keep taking it and taking it.”
The ties between the two countries are without parallel. Trade between the U.S. and Canada totaled an estimated $673.9 billion in 2017, with a surplus of $8.4bn for the US. Each day, about 400,000 people cross the world’s longest international border. There is close co-operation on defence, border security and law enforcement, and a vast overlap in culture. Some Americans have rejected Mr Trump’s vitriol, using the hashtag #Thankscanada to highlight positive things that Canada has done.