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john ibbitson

In the space of a few months, Canada has emerged as the antithesis of Donald Trump's America. We are trying to preserve shared national values of tolerance and diversity in the face of a President who is leading his country into a very dark place.

This is dangerous for us. If Mr. Trump sees Canada as an enemy, then he will lash out. The challenge for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – the challenge, really, for all of us – is to preserve the multicultural, globally connected values that most Canadians share, while not antagonizing an administration that could do this country great harm.

The horrific shootings in Quebec City remind us that an undercurrent of hatred and intolerance runs beneath the surface in all societies, including ours. But most political and civic leaders in this country unite in opposing and trying to contain such threats. Mr. Trump, in contrast, exploits them.

From the day he announced his candidacy for president by describing illegal Mexican immigrants as "rapists," to his executive order last Friday banning citizens from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States, Mr. Trump has fomented fear and resentment in the name of national security.

The Liberal government responded to Friday's announcement by offering temporary residence permits to anyone stranded in Canada by the American ban. And even as the United States builds walls and tightens rules to keep immigrants out, Canada airlifts Syrian refugees by the tens of thousands and increases its immigration intake from 250,000 a year to 300,000.

But this is not just about immigration. It seems, at times, to be about everything.

Mr. Trump has scrapped the Trans Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement and vowed to rewrite the rules of the North American free-trade agreement. Canada was a signatory to the TPP and strongly defends NAFTA.

Mr. Trump is indifferent at best to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, while seeking to improve relations with Russia. Canada is sending troops to Latvia to bolster NATO defences against Russia.

Mr. Trump is threatening a trade war with China. The Trudeau government hopes to conclude a free-trade agreement with China.

The Trump administration considers evidence of global warming a hoax. The Trudeau government has introduced a national carbon tax to fight climate change.

In sum, Donald Trump undermines the Western alliance – and the values underpinning it – that presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama built and maintained. Canada embodies and defends that alliance.

Mr. Trump was never popular with most Canadians (or, for that matter, with most Americans; he is plumbing uncharted depths of unpopularity for a new president). But he is becoming an anathema here.

Case in point: In the weeks leading up the inauguration, one question was whether Mr. Trump would follow the tradition of making Ottawa his first foreign visit. Now, as protests over his actions spread across this country as well as the United States, the question is whether police could control the crowds of demonstrators were he to set foot anywhere north of the border.

Although celebrating Canadian tolerance in the face of Trumpian intolerance feels good, there could be consequences. This President viciously targets anyone who does not share his prejudices and celebrate his vast self-worth. How will he react to an entire country that openly rejects everything he stands for?

The administration is talking about imposing an import tax on goods crossing the border. Canada will seek an exemption from such a tariff, which would harm the American economy but cripple ours.

We will never be able to thin the border while Mr. Trump is president. The question is how much we can keep it from thickening.

The past 10 days have shown us how dangerous the next four years will be for Canada and the world under President Trump. Leadership involves protecting Canadian values while also protecting Canadian jobs. Justin Trudeau's prime ministership may be judged by how well he manages relations with America's first rogue president.