USA TODAY US Edition
NEW LEADER MAY INSPIRE OBAMA TO HAIL ‘O CANADA’
Outgoing president, incoming prime minister have similar viewpoints on issues such as protecting environment
Canada’s election of the Liberal Party’s Justin Trudeau as prime minister means the United States and its northern neighbor can expect better cooperation during President Obama’s last year in office.
“I think Justin Trudeau is certainly going to reach out to Obama,” said Donald Abelson, political science professor at Western University in Ontario. “They share a lot of similar interests in terms of protecting the environment and advancing certain progressive policies.”
Abelson pointed to a speech Trudeau gave over the summer about forming an intra-governmental committee to oversee the relationship between the two countries. “I think he does understand the power discrepancy between the two countries,” he said.
Trudeau, 43, and outgoing Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, 56, differ in their approach to foreign policy. Harper, seeking a fourth term before losing Monday’s vote, was an outspoken supporter of the Israeli government, gave a lukewarm reaction to the Iran nuclear deal and took strong stances against Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Because of Canada’s small military, any changes by Trudeau will be more of a change in tone than actual involvement of Canadian forces in the Middle East or elsewhere, said Bruce Hicks at the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs of York University in Toronto.
“The Liberals will be less supportive of the (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu approach to Israeli politics,” Hicks said. “They will be pro-Israel, but they will be centrist pro-Israel.”
Liberals also will be less prone to be involved in military approaches to fight the Islamic State. “They’ll be more about wanting to spend money on aid and development,” Hicks said.
That change in philosophy will go beyond Canada’s relationship with the United States.
Canada is “back” on the world stage, Trudeau told a rally Tuesday after his landslide victory ended nearly a decade of Conservative Party rule.
“I want to say to this country’s friends all around the world, many of you have worried that Canada has lost its compassionate and constructive voice in the world over the past 10 years,” Trudeau said. “On behalf of 35 million Canadians, we’re back.”
Under Harper, Canada had a more adversarial relationship with the United Nations than un- der previous leaders, said John McArthur, a senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
“It was seen as a bad moment when Canada wasn’t elected to the Security Council a couple of years ago,” he said.
Trudeau supports the Key- stone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from western Canada to the American Gulf Coast, but he also vowed to focus more on environmental affairs than Harper did. The future of his energy policy is clouded by the revelation days before the election that a senior campaign adviser had advised a Canadian energy company on how to lobby the government.
“There’s a view among some, and it’s just a hypothesis, that the Obama administration might have had an easier time supporting Keystone if the Canadian gov- ernment was seen as more progressive and proactive on reducing emissions,” McArthur said.
Trudeau’s iconic father, Pierre, who was Canada’s prime minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984, famously had an antagonistic relationship with Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Though the younger Trudeau shares policy goals with Obama, the relationship between the countries could change, depending on who is elected president in 2016.
“I think, given Trudeau’s ideological orientation, he’s more inclined to have a warmer relationship with a Democratic president than a Republican one,” Abelson said. Pierre Trudeau “thought with his mind, he acted intellectually. The son, I think, is going to act more with his heart.”
“Many of you have worried that Canada has lost its compassionate and constructive voice. ... On behalf of 35 million Canadians, we’re back.” Liberal Party’s Justin Trudeau