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Trump storm will hit Canada

Brace yourself Canada. Whenever a hurricane hammers the United States, its tail end can slap this country in the face.

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump speaks to members of the media during his meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Nov. 10.

And when that human-cyclone, Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency last week, he sent storm warnings screeching north of the border.

It's too early to know what damage the sinister clouds building over our southern horizon might do to Canada, where half the respondents to a new Angus Reid poll say they fear Trump will hurt us. But we must be aware of the threats because they're real.

The biggest is Trump's promise to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It's unclear if he can do this unilaterally but it's indisputable he wants to stop Mexico, with its cheaper labour force, from sending so many manufactured products into the U.S.

Even if he's fixated on Mexico, not Canada, as the source of what he erroneously calls unfair competition, it's doubtful this country would escape unscathed if Trump erects new trade barriers. Seventy-five per cent of what we export is sold to Americans. At the very least, uncertainty could discourage new investment in Canada.

The next danger for Canada is Trump's promise to back out of the international agreement to fight global climate change that was reached in Paris.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to forge a nationwide consensus that slashes Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. But if carbon taxes or cap-and-trade programs increase costs for companies in Canada, they could relocate to the U.S. where, thanks to the climate-change-denying Trump, businesses could operate more cheaply. Likewise, our manufacturing sector would suffer if made-in-Canada products become more expensive than what's produced in the U.S.

Moreover, abandoning the Paris deal might just be the first stage in America pulling back from other international commitments, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a mutual defence agreement to which Canada belongs.

Then, there's the Republican elephant in the room. A right-wing President Trump will be politically and philosophically incompatible with our proudly left-of-centre Liberal prime minister.

While Trudeau prudently avoided a direct endorsement of Hillary Clinton, his party is far more in tune with her Democrats than Trump's Republicans.

It's possible some Trump policies would benefit Canada. Trump is keen to approve the Keystone XL pipeline – which Obama resolutely rejected. By increasing the flow of Alberta's oil and transporting it to a destination where it will fetch a better price, Keystone XL would give a much-needed economic jolt to both Alberta and Canada as a whole.

But Trump the blustering man, as much as Trump's tempestuous plans, alarms us.

We agree Canada must try to work with him. But it will be hard to escape the storm damage this demagogue leaves behind.



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