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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is pictured at her Queen’s Park office in Toronto on June 9, 2016. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is pictured at her Queen’s Park office in Toronto on June 9, 2016. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

U.S. election 2016

Wynne calls Trump’s trade plans ‘dangerous’ for Canada Add to ...

Kathleen Wynne says U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s promise to tear up trade deals is “dangerous” for Canada and his racially charged election rhetoric “very disturbing.”

On the day after Mr. Trump’s victory, the Ontario Premier reacted with trepidation. Her province is heavily dependent on cross-border commerce – about 80 per cent of Ontario’s exports go to the United States – leaving it particularly vulnerable to Mr. Trump’s threatened isolationism.

“The protectionist discussion that really was a very important part of the election campaign, I don’t think it’s good for Ontario, I don’t think it’s good for Canada,” she said in an interview at her Queen’s Park office on Wednesday. “Our economies are integrally linked.”

Ms. Wynne said she will have to work even harder to maintain good relationships with state governments across the Great Lakes as a way of side-stepping any clampdown on trade from Washington.

She cited forestry as just one area where Mr. Trump’s policies could be an economic roadblock to Ontario.

“Will we ever get a softwood lumber deal? I don’t know. I’m very worried about that because our forestry industry has a lot of capacity, and if we don’t have access to markets, then that’s a dangerous thing,” she said.

Mr. Trump rallied disaffected voters with a campaign pitch that included building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, rounding up and deporting 11 million illegal immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the country.

“It’s very disturbing. I thought it during the campaign and I think it now, that those kinds of divisions are counter-productive, they don’t foster a strong society, and it’s hard to have an inclusive, strong economy when society is that divided,” Ms. Wynne said. “What it says is, we need to be even more vigilant about who we are as a society in Ontario and in Canada: our inclusive approach to the economy, our inclusive approach to society and our belief that fairness actually strengthens us.”

The Premier attended two election-night parties in Toronto, one at the Albany Club hosted by public relations firm Navigator, and another at the Daniels Spectrum event space with the U.S. consul-general. At the second party, she said, the room fell silent as Mr. Trump pulled ahead.

“When it looked like it was going the wrong direction ... everybody was pretty shocked,” she said. “I could hardly believe it. There was a surreal quality to it. When I woke up this morning, I was opening my iPad with trepidation to see what had happened.”

Environment Minister Glen Murray said he was concerned about how LGBT people will fare under Mr. Trump. The candidate’s platform included support for a law allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT people, while his running mate, Mike Pence, has voiced support for “conversion therapy” – the discredited practice of trying to change sexual orientation.

When he appoints a new Supreme Court justice next year, Mr. Trump could also open the door to the court overturning last year’s ruling in favour of marriage equality.

“I’m very afraid for my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the United States,” Mr. Murray, who is openly gay, said on Wednesday at an unrelated media briefing. “This is a party that has run on a platform that allows gays and lesbians not to be served under their religious freedom laws, to undo gay marriage, to attack being a gay parent.”

On environmental matters, meanwhile, Mr. Murray echoed Ms. Wynne’s comments on trade: If the United States pulls out of the COP 21 climate treaty, as seems likely, Ontario will work harder to forge links with individual states that want to cut emissions, he said.

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