Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is preparing what he calls a “Team Canada” approach to engaging with the US as the country gears up for a possible return of President Donald Trump.
Trudeau told reporters in Montreal on Tuesday that Trade Minister Mary Ng and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne will lead the strategy, along with Canada’s ambassador to the US, Kirsten Hillman.
The approach will bring together experts and leaders in business, labour and academia, along with provincial and territorial partners, to deepen Canada’s relationship with its closest ally and trading partner, he said.
It is based on a similar strategy that Canada used during Trump’s term in the White House, a chaotic time that involved a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and other economic irritants.
“We made it through the challenges represented by the Trump administration seven years ago,” Trudeau said. “We put forward the fact that Canada and the US do best when we do it together, when we’re well-integrated, when we recognise the prosperity that’s created on both sides of the border.
“That’s going to continue to be our approach. Obviously Mr Trump represents a certain amount of unpredictability, but we will make sure we’re pulling together and preparing for whatever eventualities.”
Champagne said the vehicle manufacturing sector – with its high level of supply-chain integration between Canada and the US – is an example of why any US president has to protect North American trade corridors.
“If there’s one thing that President Trump understood and understands, it’s jobs,” Champagne told reporters. “The fact that we have EV plants on both sides, that we are integrated – it’s about resilience, it’s making sure that workers in North America will be able to have a career for decades to come.”
Trudeau made the announcement as Trump extended his lead over his top Republican opponent, Nikki Haley, in the New Hampshire primary.
Relations with the US are “fundamental” for the prosperity and well-being of Canadians, Trudeau said on the final day of a retreat with his cabinet.
Canada-US trade in goods and services topped C$1.2 trillion (US$891 billion) in 2022, representing about two-thirds of Canada’s total global trade.
“There’s always challenges whenever there’s an American election,” Trudeau said. “But as we have before, we’re going to be ready to deal with whatever gets tossed at us and make sure we’re defending Canadians interests and opportunities.”
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