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Analysis | : liberals see an opportunity

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Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau before a NATO meeting in the Kingdom -United, in December 2019. Liberals are trying to argue that they are best positioned to stand up to Mr. Trump should he return to power. (Archive photo)

  • Fannie Olivier (View profile)Fannie Olivier

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Even if the prospect of Donald Trump taking back the keys to the White House deeply worries Justin Trudeau's liberals, they also see it as an opportunity to stand out, arguing that they are best placed to stand up to him. Raising the specter of Mr. Trump's return to power could, however, prove to be a very delicate weapon to handle.

When they see Donald Trump's lead in the Republican primaries, Justin Trudeau's Cabinet ministers probably feel like they are reliving an old nightmare. This is because, for the Liberal government, the risks arising from the re-election of Donald Trump in Washington are numerous.

On the economic front, his advocacy of protectionism endangers the close relationship that has been forged between Canada and the United States since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1989.

Donald Trump is no longer content with threatening to tear up NAFTA, replaced by CUSMA during his presidential term, he is outright promising to impose customs tariffs of 10% for all products imported into its country. The measure would be devastating for the Canadian economy, as nearly two-thirds of our trade is with the United States.

On the political level, Donald Trump's attacks against the United Nations and NATO, his appeasement towards the leaders of authoritarian regimes and his disinterest in the war in Ukraine threaten the very foundations of the world order that we have known since the Second World War.

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ELSE ON INFO: <em>Icon of the Seas</em> : navigating the quiet river of overconsumption

Behind the scenes, people say they fear the destabilizing effect that a Donald Trump victory would have on the state of democracy in his country, but also in other regions of the world.

At the Cabinet retreat, the ministers pledged to pull out all the stops to prepare for the November presidential elections, regardless of who the American people choose. Justin Trudeau thus set up a new “Team Canada”, a working group like the one created during the renegotiation of NAFTA.

Canada's Ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, ministers, business, union and university leaders, as well as elected officials from different levels of government will have the mandate to strengthen ties with the United States. United.

In a press briefing, Justin Trudeau conceded that, regardless of who is in power in Washington, the relations between American presidents and the first Canadian ministers are never easy. It's still a complex relationship where American interests take up a lot of space in the discussions, he noted.

Him, however, he suggests that the election of Donald Trump would bring about an additional layer of complexity. Mr. Trump represents a certain… uncertainty, he finally conceded after a long hesitation. We don't know exactly what he's going to bring.

The liberal leader therefore spares no effort to prepare for all scenarios, while admitting that one of Donald Trump's characteristics is, precisely, to be… unpredictable.

Faced with the unknown represented by a possible return of Donald Trump to Washington, the liberals plead that they are the ones who are best placed to face it thanks to the experience they have acquired during of his first mandate.

The Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, seems to be serving a warning to the electorate. I think people, in their heart of hearts, are going to fall back on a team like ours, which has already done [deal with Donald Trump], because this is not the time to take risks, a- he said on the sidelines of the Cabinet retreat.

In other words, the Liberals argue that Justin Trudeau constitutes a safe bet in these uncertain times, unlike the conservative Pierre Poilievre, accused of imprudence. The liberal troops thus use their experience as a defensive weapon, attempting to demonstrate their comparative advantage.

But the possible return of Donald Trump is also occasionally used as an offensive weapon. In an end-of-year interview with The Canadian Press, Justin Trudeau used the term MAGA conservatives, in reference to the Republican candidate's slogan, Make America Great Again.

The Liberal Party of Canada also published a video in which Pierre Poilievre and Donald Trump appear side by side, using similar words.

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Liberal ministers also accused the Conservative leader of importing Trump-style policies.

This offensive weapon could, however, prove very difficult to handle. Firstly because, even if Pierre Poilievre likes a corrosive style of politics, the differences between the two politicians are numerous, starting with their position on abortion.

But also because, if Donald Trump ends up being re-elected president, the diplomatic channels between Ottawa and Washington could be scrambled for good.

  • Fannie Olivier (View profile)Fannie OlivierFollow

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