Trudeau talks out of both sides of mouth on Team Canada relationship

The public would do well to remember that the Trudeau government would like nothing more than to fight another election by painting their enemy as Trump in-waiting. Pictured: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo Credit: Justin Trudeau/X. 

Right now, all (proverbial) roads in the United States lead to the upcoming presidential election in November. With campaign style announcements and rallies by President Joe Biden and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump taking centre stage, it should come as no surprise that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seizing the moment to talk out of both sides of his mouth.

Trudeau’s objective? Defend the interests of Canadian companies and their employees during a period of political instability, while subsequently blurring the lines between his Conservative opponent and Trump.

Back in January, Trudeau blew the dust off the 2017 “Team Canada” playbook and appointed several cabinet ministers with economic portfolios to lead the charge on working with the US embassy to approach business leaders, entrepreneurs, organized labour, civil society and all levels of government. If the plan works to its stated objectives, Canada will continue to benefit from a strong relationship with the US.

Politically, it doesn’t take much to figure out what’s going on here. The Trudeau government is worried about the economic whiplash of a Trump victory in November and is attempting to get ahead of it by building alliances and ringing the alarm bell south of the border.

Having lived through it once, Canadian business leaders aren’t willing to be caught flat-footed in the event of a Biden loss in November. Notably, the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement is once again up for review in 2026. The last round of negotiations opened the door for the previous Trump Administration to use Section 232 of the Trade Exemption Act to put tariffs on Canadian steel as a negotiating tactic, causing all sorts of ramifications for the Canadian economy. 

But beyond the superficial scope of shoring up and reaffirming Canada’s long-standing partnership with the US, Trudeau has his own re-election interests at heart. 

After Trump won the Iowa Republican caucuses earlier this year, Trudeau stated that, “in two years here in Canada, we’ll have a similar choice [compared to America]. Do we move forward, to defend democracy, our principles? Do we continue to fight climate change, defend individual rights, defend minorities? Or do we go backwards because we’re too angry about everything that’s going on in the world around us?”

Make no mistake. The Trudeau government has never had any qualms about lumping former Conservative leaders in with Trump and Poilievre is no exception to this rule. 

But one could argue there is more at stake now than there was in 2017. 

Trump is a known commodity and his unpredictability when it comes to policy decisions makes him a huge liability for the Canadian economy. Tie in an uncertain geopolitical situation and the former president’s commitment to upend NATO and suddenly Canada’s defence spending is a political target. 

The Team Canada playbook will be a staple of media coverage over the next several months. Whether it will pay dividends remains to be seen, but the public would do well to remember that the Trudeau government would like nothing more than to fight another election by painting their enemy as Trump in-waiting. Pay close enough attention and you’ll see this work is already underway. 


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