If Donald Trump does what he is promised, he might win a second term as president. If he curtails free trade and implements strong tariffs on exports, he will create a lot of jobs and prosperity. If he keeps American troops out of unnecessary wars, and soothes Russia’s ruffled feathers, he will save lives and reduce military budgets. If he invests in fixing the sorry state of America’s infrastructure, he will create even more jobs.
It has to be pointed out, however, that these policies are very much the opposite of what most Conservatives have voted for in the past. So congress may work against him…he hasn’t drained the swamp of Republican ideologues who believe religiously in free trade, military spending and low taxes.
Our Prime Minister was on the telephone with Trump this past weekend, pointing out that 35 American states list Canada as first among their customers for export. So perhaps Trump will not erect a protectionist border against Canada: let’s hope so. But that might be just one of our problems.
Canada had better be very, very cautious about the changing world order: America has traditionally functioned as a protector of Canadian interests, allowing us to spend less on our own defence than we might have if they hadn’t been so friendly. Now that the US and Russia are suddenly becoming pals, we should take a hard look at what might happen.
- If Arctic ice continues to melt — and it will — the traditionally stable view of the Canadian Arctic might destabilize. There is a lot of oil under the Arctic Ocean. Are we capable — or willing — to fight for sovereignty (and our environment) against two superpowers?
- America is pulling back from their role in NATO just as Europe trends toward electing radical, far right (much further right than anybody in Canada) neo-fascist and openly racist governments, which could end the European experiment. Canada just signed a vital trade agreement with the European Union. Also, if there is a war in Europe, Canada has an obligation under NATO to get involved. And we will, because we might need our NATO allies in the future (see #1).
- If America shuts the trade door on China, the world will experience an angry and desperate Asian tiger. Stephen Harper signed a secret deal with China, without parliamentary debate, that gives China extraordinary powers within our country and limits our legal ability to stop it until 2045.
We cannot change who was elected in the US, but we can keep our eyes wide open and prepare carefully for what might happen. To that end, while we continue to seek trade agreements with like-minded nations, we must also develop a rigorous industrial strategy of our own. Like Albertan businesswoman Arlene Dickinson has advised: “Building a stronger economy starts by adding value to our commodities here at home by refining, packaging, and marketing them to consumers before we ship them abroad. In my view, so much as a stick shouldn’t leave this province without first adding value to it.”
We should also rethink our defense strategy, just in case. We should start by making military service more attractive by treating our military personnel much, much better and giving them honourable, visible work in our communities. We can add value to increased military expenditures by assigning non-combat activities to the armed forces, including projects to mitigate the effects of climate change. This is an excellent reason to increase Canada’s military presence in the Arctic.
The world is changing, and it’s not becoming better or safer for Canada. Let’s not be naive or complacent.
CEO, Green Party of Canada for Battle River – Crowfoot