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Trump-Trudeau talks reaffirms the bridge between our two nations

Commentary with Geoff deGannes
Commentary with Geoff deGannes

Amidst plenty of apprehension, the much-anticipated first meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump has been deemed a win-win for both parties that has many Canadian business leaders breathing a huge sigh of relief.

We can forget about any developing “bromance” like the chemistry that was evident between Trudeau and President Barack Obama, but the PM has obviously made a good first impression on “the Donald.”

We can forget about any developing “bromance” like the chemistry that was evident between Trudeau and President Barack Obama, but the PM has obviously made a good first impression on “the Donald.”

Trudeau showed a keen sense of diplomacy in this first face-to-face with the president shrewdly avoiding discussion on any issue that could have easily stirred the ire of the often unpredictable and volatile Trump. It certainly didn’t hurt that he came bearing gifts, including a picture from a 1982 dinner featuring a much younger Trump posing with then prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Talk about stroking the president’s ego.  Ideologically speaking, the two leaders are polar opposites on just about everything.  What they do share in common is the realization that there is a long history of friendship and co-operation between the two nations and the profound shared interest in terms of trade.

What cannot be underestimated was the preliminary work done by Trudeau’s delegation of cabinet ministers and aides. The successful meeting of the two leaders did not happen overnight. The White House was no doubt thoroughly briefed on the fact our two economies are deeply integrated, and that millions of good, middle-class American jobs depend on trade with Canada.

Kudos as well to the Canadian delegation for pulling off the round-table discussion involving women in business with both the PM and the president. It was a photo-op that gave Trump an opportunity to improve his image with the many women he alienated during the recent campaign while again shining a light on his daughter Ivanka.

Some interesting dynamics emerged from the press conference where Trump appeared uneasy one minute and almost bored the next. It was as if the visit from the Canadian prime minister was nothing more than a distraction from the more pressing issues the embattled president is facing, including the continued chaos and upheaval among his White House staff.  

While he’s determined to build a wall between his country and its neighbour to the south, thankfully he spoke of building bridges between the U.S. and Canada and just “tweaking” NAFTA in the case of Canada.  

On the more contentious issue of immigration and refugees, the responses of the two leaders spoke volumes about the wide chasm between Trudeau’s values and those of Trump. Trudeau politely steered away from criticizing Trump’s “extreme vetting” policy by simply stating that his role and responsibility was “to continue to govern in such a way that reflects Canadians' approach and be a positive example in the world.”

While the Canadian delegation came away from this week’s Washington get-together with some assurances in the area of trade, the relationship between the two governments will remain somewhat precarious over the long term.  

At some point, the Trudeau government will be forced to take a firm stand where Canada’s interests are impacted by Trump’s iron-fisted approach to border security, immigration and defence.


Geoff deGannes is the past chairman of the Tantramar Radio Society. His daily commentaries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.

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