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Only one-third of Canadians now view the United States favourably, according to polls. That compares with two-thirds in the past. Safe to say that never in the past century has America been viewed in such negative terms by Canadians.

There was a run of anti-Americanism in the 1970s. But it was driven in large part by America’s success. Its economic potency and reach was deemed a threat to Canadian independence. The government of Pierre Trudeau created a Foreign Investment Review Agency to try and counter the trend.

Today the Canadian discord has a more legitimate basis, it being the palpable deterioration of the Republic’s standards during the past four years under Donald Trump in combination with the egregiously disrespectful treatment he accorded Canada.

Denis Stairs, a political scientist and Canada-U.S. watcher since the 1950s, has noticed the change in the attitudes of Canadians, the uncommon degree of hostility, in his encounters on his walks along the south shore near Halifax. Given what’s transpired, “the reaction is understandable,” he said. The Americans “have been defining their interests narrowly. They’re playing a rougher game.”

Just as dumbfounding as Mr. Trump’s preposterous outpourings has been the discovery of the vast number of Americans who share his views and those of QAnon, white supremacists and other assorted whack jobs. That’s been a wake-up call. This is hardly the country northlanders thought it was.

While Canada has tacked its customary course, the great Republic has moved in a different direction. In much of the mainland, far-right loons and goons have gained a firm foothold, their power manifest in a brutally transformed Republican Party. It’s a major change in the country’s political culture, one that Canadians largely disdain.

Another big shift sees the U.S., unlike Canada, looking inward, with both major parties becoming more nationalist and protectionist. Free trade has given way to managed trade. Globalization favoured by Canadian governments has given way to barrier-building.

The changing trajectory diminishes the prospect that the American malaise is fleeting, that given a few years with a rational man of goodwill such as Joe Biden at the helm all will be well again.

Mr. Biden got off to an awkward start, particularly with Western Canadians with his cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. His pledge to stiffen Buy American laws was a downer as well.

But those starting points should not be taken as any kind of harbinger. In the main, his progressive policies align well with Ottawa’s. He has an excellent rapport with Justin Trudeau, granting the Prime Minister his first meeting with a foreign leader, and he has every intention of repairing bilateral damage.

Canada-U.S. experts such as American academic Kathryn Bryk Friedman of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center are confident that despite his party’s tilt toward economic nationalism, the Democrat will succeed.

To rebuild Canadian ties, he needs to do Canada a favour or two. In his negotiations with China he could see to the release of the two Canadian hostages being held as a result of the Meng Wanzhou controversy. With Canada experiencing COVID-19 vaccine shortages, he could send any American surpluses that come his way north of the border. That would certainly generate goodwill, said Ms. Bryk Friedman, as would, she added, granting exemptions to Ottawa on Buy America laws.

There is much to make up for. Under Mr. Trump, Canada wasn’t treated like a neighbour and friend but more like any other hunk of geography. Prior to him, all was hardly rosy. Bilateral relations have been strained for much of the past 20 years.

With George W. Bush came the big split over the Iraq war and other headaches.

Though Canadians loved Barack Obama, few dividends came our way from his stewardship. He and Stephen Harper were ideological opposites. Mr. Obama couldn’t believe he was dealing with a PM who was a big fan of Fox News. In fact Mr. Harper helped bring to Canada a Fox-type outlet with the Sun News Network, a fount for hard-right views that mercifully didn’t survive.

In its plight can be seen a tale of the two countries. In trying to restore respect for America, Mr. Biden will be dogged by opposition on the far right. If Mr. Trump is acquitted in the Senate trial, there are no guarantees any gains the new president makes with Canada or elsewhere will endure. Mr. Trump could be returned to power in four years. At this juncture in their history, Americans appear well capable of doing something that foolish.

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