Time to be statesmanlike and make nice with Mr. Trump

When Donald Trump shocked the planet and won the U.S. presidential election, many were outraged, disgusted, furious, upset and traumatized.

Protestors took to the streets – even here in Canada – and everybody’s Facebook and Twitter feeds filled with infuriated rages and hurtful screeds from those who despise the man.

A few world leaders essentially insulted Trump, including German leader Angela Merkel. Numerous politicians in many countries have done the same thing. Instead of the customary message of “Congratulations and looking forward to working with you,” some took the opportunity to issue implied or outright criticism of some of the outrageous or at least out-of-the ordinary things Trump said during the election campaign.

Britain’s Theresa May was smarter than that, offering a traditional welcome and opening up a friendly line of communication with him. With Britain facing the uncertainties of Brexit, getting along with the world’s most important country is probably a pretty good idea.

Fortunately for Canadians’ sake, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did essentially the same thing.

Lots of people would like to have a go at Trump for his campaign statements that attacked women, refugees, Mexicans and others, but there’s far too much at stake right now to indulge in this for any nation’s leader. Especially Canada’s.

Canada is utterly reliant on our trading relationship with the U.S. For the farmers who are this newspaper’s principal readers it is an even greater reliance, The U.S. is a market and a partner that can’t be taken for granted. The U.S. benefits from having free-flowing trade with Canada, but for Canada, it’s a critical reliance.

Already there are worries that Trump will rip up the NAFTA, or reintroduce something like Country Of Origin Labelling (COOL). That could badly disrupt farmers’ markets and hammer down prices as gluts pile up on the Canadian side and our processing and overseas export abilities become overwhelmed.  Farmers are price takers and if Trump acts in a belligerent manner, we could be in for a beating.

So our best hope is that JT, the rest of our government, and our industries make nice with the Trump administration for now. Through their electoral system, Americans chose Trump to be president, so we should accept the result and be willing to work cooperatively and positively with the new administration.

If Trump dumps COOL on Canada, or in some other way aggressively interferes with our trade, we need to scream bloody blue murder and hit back against U.S. products, but until he does something like that, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and give him room to do the right thing.

A big part of diplomacy is having restraint and not saying stupid things. Let’s leave the stupid statements to overseas countries and focus on finding a way to work with our gigantic neighbour to the south. As Trudeau senior noted: we’re in bed with an elephant and the risk of being crushed is always present. Let’s not provoke a rolling-over.


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