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It is only 12 days into the Donald Trump era – and the chaos has visibly seeped into Ottawa and Justin Trudeau's government.

There has always been uncertainty about what President Trump means for Canada, starting with trade. Mr. Trudeau's government has tried to respond by reassuring Canadians that, at the very least, they're in contact with Mr. Trump's team and on top of things.

But more and more, the Canadian government – its own policies directly affected – is in a state of daily surprise, waiting to see how things play out.

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Just look at how Ahmed Hussen, the new Immigration Minister, answered a question about a major part of Canada's immigration policy, the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States. That agreement, signed after the 9/11 attacks, put borders at the top of Washington's agenda, establishing that an asylum seeker who lands in either Canada or the U.S. has to claim refuge where they land – someone who lands in New York cannot drive to Canada to claim asylum.

But now that Mr. Trump has declared a 120-day freeze on letting in refugees, Mr. Hussen was asked how that agreement can remain in effect – and his answer was that things are changing every day.

"We've just recently found out, for example, that the U.S. administration is letting in … a few hundred refugees in the Middle East that were already screened and finalized and were on their way to the United States," he said. "That demonstrates that this is an evolving situation."

In the meantime, keeping the Safe Third Country Agreement in place is probably a violation of Canadian law, which requires the government to continually monitor whether the United States is living up to its status as a safe refuge for legitimate asylum seekers.

Mr. Trudeau's government has struggled with the pressure to condemn Mr. Trump's immigration order, trying to assert that its values are different without directly criticizing the U.S. President. Mr. Hussen's answer was also an inkling of the problems the government is facing over the many Canadian policies that are intertwined with those of the United States.

The Safe Third Country Agreement was part of the Smart Border Declaration, in which Canada agreed to share information and co-ordinate border controls. Last week, Mr. Trump took sudden measures that threw a chunk of it in the air, and Mr. Hussen is waiting to see where it lands.

Remember that #WelcomeToCanada tweet that Mr. Trudeau sent out after Mr. Trump issued his order temporarily barring refugees and travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries? The Prime Minister was lauded by some for saying Canada will welcome those fleeing persecution or war "regardless of their faith." But there's no sign Mr. Trudeau's government will accept asylum seekers who arrive at the U.S. border. They don't know if that would have an impact on U.S. border screening for Canadians. Right now, Mr. Trudeau can't say what #WelcomeToCanada means.

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It's not only borders. There are, of course, the erratic trade signals. Some close to Mr. Trump suggested Canada doesn't have much to worry about, but then the White House press secretary said the United States would impose a 20-per-cent tariff on Mexican goods, a death threat to NAFTA.

In other areas, it's affecting the Trudeau government's own policies. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Tuesday that he can't give a date for when the government will announce a long-promised UN peacekeeping mission.

Mr. Trudeau touted the mission last August as a return to Canada's peacekeeping tradition. Now, Mr. Trudeau has said he'll take U.S. views into account – and there's no deadline.

The trouble for Mr. Trudeau is that wait and see is already wearing a little thin – and it's only Day 12. In the Commons this week, interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose lambasted Mr. Trudeau for failing to come up with "a plan" to respond to change in Mr. Trump's America. But she didn't detail a plan, either. At the moment, Mr. Trudeau has a lot of his on hold.

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