Canada’s Trump strategy: go around him

From The New York Times — Written by Max Fisher – Image courtesy of Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

As President Trump disrupts alliances across the map, nearly every level of government in Canada has taken on new duties in a quietly audacious campaign to cajole, contain and if necessary coerce the Americans.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s strategy for managing Mr. Trump is unlike anything tried by another ally. And he has largely succeeded where even experienced leaders like Angela Merkel of Germany have fallen short.

More than perhaps any other country, Canada relies on the United States, which accounts for 70 percent of its trade. Its sizable manufacturing industry is tightly integrated with American production, meaning even a slight hardening of the border or prolonged trade negotiations could put its economy at risk.

Laid in the first days after Mr. Trump’s election win, the plan even enlists Brian Mulroney, a former Conservative prime minister and political nemesis of Mr. Trudeau’s father, who had also been prime minister. Mr. Mulroney knows Mr. Trump and his commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, from social circuits in southern Florida, where all three keep vacation homes.

Mr. Mulroney’s former chief of staff and ambassador to Washington, Derek Burney, said they urged Mr. Trudeau’s government to “cultivate access, but not just within the White House. To work the American system as never before.”

By organizing a grass-roots network of American officials, lawmakers and businesses, Canada is hoping to contain Mr. Trump’s protectionist and nationalist impulses. Though emphasizing the benefits of harmony, the Canadians are not above flexing muscle, with a provincial government at one point quietly threatening trade restrictions against New York State.

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