Home Editor Picks In a choice between Biden and Trump, Canada loses either way

In a choice between Biden and Trump, Canada loses either way

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In a choice between Biden and Trump, Canada loses either way

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Joe Biden is as protectionist, or perhaps more protectionist, than Donald Trump

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Canadian politicians, and the media that cover them, need to get real about American politics.

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The threat to Canada’s economy doesn’t come from the prospect of a second Donald Trump presidency, it comes from the entire American political system, which has become more protectionist.

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This week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy, as he reminded successive audiences throughout the day.

Trudeau’s speech to the Service Employees International Union was the PM at his best. Full campaign mode, giving an uplifting speech to an audience already predisposed to liking, even loving, him.

These are the environments Trudeau thrives in, and as he loved the SEIU delegates, they loved him back.

His speech had a few digs at the opposition Conservatives back home, some veiled shots at Trump, but for the most part, he made the pitch for Canada and the United States doing business together. It’s good for jobs on both sides of the border, he told the cross-border union conference, a message he repeated at a business reception later in the day.

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“Doing more as friends and partners is good for both of our countries for jobs but it’s also good for the world,” Trudeau said at that reception.

Trudeau pointed out that Canada is not only the No. 1 export market in the entire world for products made in Pennsylvania, but also bigger than the next four export markets combined. In an era when politicians on both sides of the American political aisle have become extremely protectionist, this is the type of message that Canadian politicians and ambassadors need to be making 24/7, 365 days a year.

Instead, most in Canada’s political establishment ignore the protectionism of the Democrats – a party that is historically more protectionist – and only worry about the Republicans. This was true before Trump, but since his arrival on the political scene there is this idea that only he will target Canadians economy.

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“How concerned are you that no matter how much you try to insulate the Canadian economy, you’ll still be blindsided by a Trump presidency?” Trudeau was asked by a reporter on the trip.

Not to pick on this reporter, but like most covering Canadian politics, they don’t seem to realize that Joe Biden is as protectionist, if not more protectionist, than Trump was. The free trade ethos that ran from Reagan, Bush, Clinton and the second Bush administration is now gone.

Obama ramped up protectionism, Trump took it to a new level, but Biden makes Trump look like an amateur.

The Biden administration tried to move all electric vehicle and EV battery production to the United States using the Inflation Reduction Act. If you don’t like the tax breaks – not subsidies – going to plants in Canada, blame Biden.

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The attempt to move all production stateside wasn’t blocked by Canada but by American senators who felt Biden went too far and endangered jobs in their states.

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Biden has also increased tariffs on softwood lumber, he continues to threaten country-of-origin labelling that would decimate Canadian beef and pork producers. In the 2023 State of the Union speech, Biden threatened to block Canadian companies from providing materials or services for American infrastructure projects.

“I’m also announcing new standards to require all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects to be made in America. American-made lumber, glass, drywall, fiber optic cables,” Biden said, to a standing ovation.

This isn’t an attempt to say that Canadians should prefer Trump over Biden but that we should judge them by the same standard. As a Canadian, my only interest in who holds the White House is how that office holder will treat this country.

Right now, both major party candidates are protectionists who will threaten Canadian jobs and they should both be treated as such.

We need our elected leaders and our media to face the reality of American politics and trade and realize the times have changed — neither party is our friend at this point.

blilley@postmedia.com

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