Trump “probably takes names” on Biden congratulations after Trudeau outreach: expert

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OTTAWA – The current President of the United States deserves no mention from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau since Democrat Joe Biden became president-elect on Saturday. While this may cause Trudeau and Canada to suffer retaliation from Donald Trump, analysts are divided over the degree of misery even a very vindictive lame president could inflict on his closest neighbor.

Trudeau became the first international leader to speak to Biden on Monday, following his heartwarming congratulations to the former US Vice President and his Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday.

The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement congratulating Biden within 45 minutes of multiple media outlets calling for the Democrat’s crucial victory in Pennsylvania.

Bessma Momani, an expert in international affairs at the University of Waterloo, says Trump is probably following who congratulates Biden.

She said there was nothing to exclude Trump from finding a way to retaliate against Canada during his time remaining in the Oval Office.

“Certainly, if you look at why the Chinese were still keen to congratulate Trump, there is concern that Trump may be punitive on trade or other matters for those who are seen to be on Biden’s side in the legal battle that Trump has business, ”Momani helps.

“There is no doubt that Trump takes names and personalizes the best wishes of congratulations to Biden. ”

Trump has refused to concede defeat and threatens legal action, claiming without evidence that he was swindled out of victory. His top diplomat, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told reporters on Tuesday he expected a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

Trump imposed punitive tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum in 2018 using a rarely used section of U.S. trade law that gives the executive the power to protect national security.

The tariffs were pointedly seen to block the flood of cheap Chinese steel into the United States via Canada. But Trump’s Commerce Secretary said at the time they were being imposed because Americans were not happy with the slow pace of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump eventually removed the tariffs, but reimposed a tax on Canadian aluminum in August, which was lifted less than a week before the presidential election.

“I have no suspicion that Mr. Trump will try to cause problems from a business perspective in the coming months,” said Dennis Darby, president of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

Trump is probably not concerned about foreign views about him and will transform his remaining days in power by making life miserable for his political opponents in the United States, said Sarah Goldfeder, a former US diplomat who is now a consultant based in Ottawa.

“I think Trump has two things on his mind and neither does Canada,” Goldfeder said. Such are its political and financial survival “and making life difficult for Democrats and non-Trumpers”.

She said “Trudeau didn’t reveal anything Trump didn’t already know” when calling Biden.

Trudeau and Biden released separate readings of their conversation on Monday, which summarized areas of potential cooperation as well as differences.

Trudeau’s office said he and Biden discussed COVID-19, climate change, tackling anti-black racism and China’s detention of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

Biden’s statement said he looked forward to working closely with Trudeau on global health, revitalizing bilateral economic relations as well as the broader North American partnership, and working with Canada on a range of regional challenges. and global.

Meredith Lilly, Simon Reisman Chair in Trade Policy at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, said Trump’s biggest concerns were all national and the Biden-Trudeau appeal had not gone. probably not even registered with him.

French President Emmanuel Macron also spoke to Biden, as well as other world leaders in the coming days, “so that we have some comfort in the numbers,” Lilly said.

“During the period of the lame duck, it will be important for Canadian officials to maintain a constructive working relationship with the Trump administration, and I am confident that Ambassador (Kirsten) Hillman and her team in Washington will do so with professionalism.

Fen Hampson, an international affairs expert at Norman Paterson who has written a book on Brian Mulroney’s foreign policy, said it was not unusual for Canadian prime ministers to contact the winners of the US presidential election before that they are not officially sworn in, like Mulroney. done with Bill Clinton.

“The math was surely that Trump is a now lame duck and has already done as much damage as possible to bilateral relations,” said Hampson, adding that Trudeau probably wanted to “seize the day and not be too concerned about the downside risk. . “”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 10, 2020.

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