Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

If your exports were almost entirely dependent on your immediate neighbour buying your goods, as Canada is on the United States, you’d want that neighbour to be a stable, reliable and honest partner.

“Honest,” “reliable” and “stable” are not words that describe the man at the head of the previous U.S. administration. For four years, Ottawa had to manage a capricious American leader who abruptly imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, and who spread misinformation about Canada-U.S. trade in his campaign to renegotiate the North American free-trade agreement.

Just to make it crystal clear that the friendship between the two countries sharing the world’s longest undefended border was meaningless to him, Donald Trump also hurled personal insults at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling him “weak,” “dishonest” and “two-faced.”

Story continues below advertisement

Climate, pandemic and economy on the agenda as Biden and Trudeau meet Tuesday in effort to renew ties

He also belittled Western institutions such as NATO and pulled out of the Paris climate accord – the latter close to Mr. Trudeau’s heart and the former a critical alliance for a middle power such as Canada, which relies on international co-operation to get things done in the world.

So it goes without saying that Tuesday’s virtual bilateral summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Mr. Trudeau will signal a reset of relations between the two countries and their leaders.

Mr. Biden is not an insult-slinging, reality-bending narcissist. He’s a moderate political lifer who has made a point of trying to restore his country’s reputation on the international scene since taking power last month.

Last week, speaking to the Munich Security Conference from the confines of the White House, he emphatically promised an end to the transactional and confrontational nature of Mr. Trump’s America First foreign policy.

“America is back,” Mr. Biden told European leaders at the conference, inadvertently echoing Mr. Trudeau’s slogan in 2015 when the newly elected PM, having defeated the Harper Conservatives, said in Paris that “Canada is back” in the fight against climate change.

So now that everyone is back, will that translate into any benefits for Canada?

A cordial relationship with the U.S. is inherently good for Canada. During the Trump years, Ottawa spent much of its time working around the White House as it defended Canada’s status as a reliable American trading partner; in the years to come, the lines of communication will be more open between two like-minded administrations.

Story continues below advertisement

It would be a mistake, however, to think this will inoculate the relationship against the pressures of domestic U.S. politics. Mr. Biden made that clear on his first day in office, when he cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline project – rewarding his domestic political base by kicking Canada. The long-promised move was no surprise, but it still stung.

At the same time, Mr. Biden’s domestic agenda can be expected to be more pragmatic than Mr. Trump’s, and based less on whim, divisive rhetoric and misinformation. This is where Mr. Trudeau has an opening with the new President.

The Prime Minister will not be talking to a wall when he reminds Mr. Biden that we are America’s closest ally and a member of the renewed NAFTA, and that we’re expecting something different from the Trump era on two critical files.

Mr. Trudeau should push Mr. Biden for exemptions from the “Made in America” rules for U.S. government procurement – a weakly enforced Trump policy that the new President has doubled down on, and which could harm Canadian manufacturers.

The PM should also ask for greater support from the U.S. in Canada’s effort to secure the releases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians being held hostage by the Chinese government in retaliation for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request. More generally, Canada and the U.S. need to be on the same page on China – which may involve Canada moving closer to the American position.

Success on these fronts will be an early litmus test of how Canada-U.S. relations will go under Mr. Biden, and of just how “back” the U.S. really is.

Story continues below advertisement

No Canadian government can ever expect its American counterpart to sacrifice more than minor domestic interests for the sake of our own priorities. But the Trudeau government can, at the very least, look forward to an end to the chaos and sabotage of the late, unlamented Trump years.

Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies