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Canada Five moves Canada should make to counter Donald Trump

20:57  14 june  2018
20:57  14 june  2018 Source:   thestar.com

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U.S. President Donald Trump is a wake-up call for Canada to think for itself, plan its own future, and survive Third, cunning. Let us not be so predictable. Even as we continue our full-court press on the Americans, we must make “friends” (there’s that word again) with multiple other countries and markets.

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And what if President Trump, rolling out of bed next week, were to threaten Canada via Twitter with some species of military action? Would that wake us from our strategic stupor?

Canada’s reaction to Trump’s tariffs and lèse majesté against the prime minister must be sharp and decisive in the short run, but position us for survival and success in the long run — 20 years hence — when, if America’s political radicalization continues, such threats against century-long allies could well become commonplace.

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First, language. Let us stop using words like “bully” to describe the president or his country. “Bully” is a schoolyard term — one not to be used by a serious country and a serious people in serious times. Similarly, let us stop invoking the Americans as “friends.” The word “friends” has no legal status in international relations. We are Canada, and they are the U.S. Just like Brazil and Argentina in the World Cup, each team is fighting to win or, in the extreme, to not lose badly.

Second, professionalism. The prime minister has to date been a consummate gentleman in his rhetoric and deportment when faced with Trump’s attacks. He must maintain this good form. Moreover, his cabinet, supported by the civil service, has been professional in pressing the U.S. file, even if the upside results have been limited. Ottawa must continue its full-court press — clinically and dispassionately — on Washington, the states, mayors and the American press.

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Third, cunning. Let us not be so predictable. Even as we continue our full-court press on the Americans, we must make “friends” (there’s that word again) with multiple other countries and markets. That is what serious countries do to survive. Where is our full-court press in China? In Southeast Asia? Where is it in Russia, if we are serious about “winning” the Arctic? Where is it in the Americas and Africa?

We should, as a national goal, through serious global diversification, be driving down our exports to the U.S. to 40 per cent of our total from the current 75 per cent by the year 2030.

Fourth, French. Let our political and intellectual leaders stop critiquing Trump and his supporters on the one hand, while quoting from Lincoln, Kennedy and Obama on the other. We are, as a country, stuck in intellectual, commercial and cultural frameworks established exclusively by our more industrious and energetic American cousins. We can admire them, but we must be deliberate in working in our own reality and according to our own vocabulary.

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U.S. President Donald Trump with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G-7 summit in Charlevoix, Que., last week.Trump is not our friend, writes Irvin Studin, he is Canada’s wake up call.© Evan Vucci/Associated Press U.S. President Donald Trump with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G-7 summit in Charlevoix, Que., last week.Trump is not our friend, writes Irvin Studin, he is Canada’s wake up call.

Alas, in the English language, it has become nearly impossible for Canadians to think for ourselves about our strategic destiny. We are surrounded on all sides by Facebook, Twitter, CNN, Fox News, the New York Times and the Washington Post. And we have not built up the requisite cultural and intellectual infrastructure to resist or assert our own analysis — except, that is, in French. In French, in Quebec and in other parts of the country, we still have breathing room and can foster a properly Canadian strategic imagination.

So what’s to be done? Answer: Treat language not only as a matter of domestic amity, but rather of national strategy. Let us develop an entire next generation of Canadians who speak both English and French perfectly, and a third or fourth language besides. This will expand our national mental map, and radically increase the country’s potential to profit from deep relationships well beyond North America.

Fifth, size. Our absolute and relative size will matter increasingly in the coming decades. Canada is certainly not a small country but we are too small, in demography and assets, for the real estate we control and given the several great powers at our borders. We must invest in scale or, as the Fathers of Confederation did, fake it.

Trump may be out of office by year’s end, or he may start a nuclear war next year. Either way, he is not our “friend.” He is a wake-up call for Canada to think for itself, plan its own future, and survive what promises to be a much harsher century than the last.

Irvin Studin is editor-in-chief of Global Brief Magazine and president of the Institute for 21st Century Questions.

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