Canada’s leg­endary ‘nice­ness’ tested by Trump’s G7 re­marks

The Scotsman - - World News - By ROB GILLIES

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.

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