Canada and Trump: Or How to Help Trudeau

By Front Line Defence

In the week since a post-G7 escalation in rhetoric and diplomatic tension between the U.S. and Canada, a majority of Canadians appear to have warmed to their government’s handling of trade negotiations with the Trump administration.

A pair of new studies from the Angus Reid Institute – conducted before, during, and after the fractious G7 meeting – find strong support for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (62% say he has handled his spat with Trump well) and for his government’s countervailing tariffs in retaliation to Trump’s on steel and aluminum (59% say this is the right approach to take).

Indeed, Canadians overwhelmingly favour taking a “hard” approach toward trade negotiations with the Trump administration going forward, with seven-in-ten (70%) preferring to risk further angering the President rather than taking a “soft” approach to try to win back and maintain his goodwill (30%).

The tougher tone on trade from south of the border is also proving to be a political boon for the Prime Minister. After a year of continually diminishing approval, Trudeau sees a 12-point jump since the last time ARI asked Canadians to assess his performance and has regained the endorsement of a majority of Canadians (52%) for the first time since last fall.

The survey also indicated that Canadians overwhelmingly find Trump’s reaction to Trudeau’s statements about trade “inappropriate,” with 81% saying he is acting erratically and damaging trust between allies.

Some 65% of respondents indicated concern that these latest escalations between the U.S. and Canada will lead to an all-out trade war between the two nations. When asked whether the current public feud between the two countries is a sign of the “fundamental deterioration” of the Canada-U.S. relationship or something more fleeting, Canadians are divided: 51% said yes.

The surge in Trudeau’s approval rating comes alongside an uptick in support for his Liberal Party. If a federal election were held tomorrow, 36% of decided and leaning voters say they would cast ballots for the Liberals, up from 30% the last time this question was asked in an Angus Reid survey.

Download a pdf with detailed tables, graphs and methodology here:

And for how the Trump initiated tariff battle could affect US producers, David Pugliese provided a look from the standpoint of providing steel for Canadian ships:

The Canadian navy’s new supply ships are being constructed of U.S. steel even as President Donald Trump punishes Canadian producers of the same product with a 25-per-cent tariff.

The supply ships are being built at the Vancouver shipyards of Seaspan, which is owned by a U.S. company. The Department of National Defence confirmed the steel is being purchased from a mill in Alabama, a solidly Republican state that voted 62 per cent for Trump.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan cut some of the first U.S. steel for the ships at a June 15 ceremony, the same day that Trump launched yet another verbal attack on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while praising North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Trump has brought in tariffs of 25 per cent on Canadian-made steel and 10 per cent on Canadian aluminum. His government has stated that Canadian steel and aluminum pose a national security threat to the U.S.

Trump also lashed out at Trudeau as “dishonest and weak,” after the prime minister reiterated his position that U.S. steel and other products would face retaliatory tariffs. In addition, Trump has promised to punish Canadians in other ways on the economic front.

The government awarded Seaspan an initial $66-million contact to begin building 52 sections of the new naval supply ships, or about 20 per cent of the vessels. DND said the steel for the ships was ordered “a number of months ago.”

“While Canadian mills will continue to be considered for future chapters of the project, there simply was no Canadian mill who could supply the required certified steel of suitable size and grade at the time it was required,” the DND said in an email.

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