Beware the Ides of March and a Trump presidency
Surprise, surprise. I didn’t get an invitation to President Trump’s inauguration. But in the unlikely event I had, would I have attended? Not likely and I suspect most other Canadians wouldn’t either except for Kevin O’Leary, the reality TV star – if “star” is the right word – of the Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank and would-be leader of the Conservative Party.
That’s right. After the devastating defeat of the Iceman himself, Stephen Harper, Kevin O’Leary is now considered one of the frontrunners in the Conservative leadership race. Can you imagine a North America led by Donald Trump and Kevin O’Leary, both of whom learned their political chops in the la la land of reality TV?
Perish the thought! But in a digital world ruled by Facebook and Twitter this is not as bizarre as it sounds. In a world where the American president is one of the biggest fans of Vladimir Putin, anything is possible.
But let’s get back to the Great White North, which like it or not, shares the world’s longest undefended border with a country led by a loquacious loudmouth determined “to make America great again.” What will this mean for the 35 million of us shivering in the snowy attic of North America? Nothing good, I’m sure.
For starters, the Home of the Brave and Land of the Free has caught another bout of protectionist fever and Trump with his world-wide business empire is the Ultimate Protectionist. The implications of this for Canada are starkly obvious. Good-bye North America Free Trade agreement. Good-bye the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership and good-bye making any agreement that will benefit Canada in its dealings with the Colossus of Washington. How can a country with its industry already largely owned by Wall Street stand up to the American juggernaut? The only reason we’ve done as well as we have is that, like it or not, Americans are hardly aware of us and when they do think of us it’s in terms of the Gentle Giant of the North that always does what it’s told by Uncle Sam and wouldn’t harm its biggest trading partner.
Hey, don’t knock it. It’s thanks to this indifferent attitude towards Canada that we’ve done as well as we have in dealing with the American Empire. They haven’t invaded us since the War of 1812. Despite their bellicose policy of Manifest Destiny more than a century ago, all they did was gobble up large parts of Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, the Philippines and the Alaskan pan handle, when the British sold us out, and left us blissfully alone to cut down trees, till the land and play hockey. In fact, we did remarkably well in some of our past dealings with the “Military Industrial Complex” (Eisenhower’s term) such as NAFTA, the Columbia River Treaty and the Softwood Lumber Agreement. With more than 10 times our population and the world’s most powerful military, they could have dictated those agreements to us, but instead they negotiated and agreements were signed that allowed both countries to prosper.
Do you think Mr. “Make America Great” again is going to treat us so kindly? If you do, you’re dreaming in 3-D because Trump has already rattled his sabre on NAFTA and his administration has engaged in similar sabre rattling over re-negotiating the Columbia River Treaty and the Softwood Lumber Agreement, both of which affect us directly in the Kootenays.
However, maybe there’s hope. The last time Trump was in Canada he was caught in a brief CBC video in September boarding a plane and said he “loved Canada” and wouldn’t build a wall on the Canadian-US border. Maybe the great 18th-century poet Alexander Pope said it best: “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”
Is there any “hope” for Canada in Trump’s breast? We’re soon going to find out.
– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who’s hoping that Trump will act completely out of character as president.