The long history of great relations between Canada and the U.S has not been as perfect as many tend to assume. With both countries being proud and always considering themselves as great nations, this relationship has been greatly maintained due to the realization that their good relations are of benefit to either country’s wishes. However, with time, the situation has developed from good to bad and is currently bad with several scholars predicting an imminent trade war between the two.
Canada and the United States have long had a pleasant relationship especially with regard to trade and matters politics. In most cases, the two countries have had immense contribution to each other’s economy, history, and culture. In 1965, the relationship between both countries began deteriorating mainly due to the Vietnam War. This escalated to the point of the Canadian government, in 1967, publicly expressing its disagreement with the American policies in the region. This led to Canadians becoming less sympathetic towards the foreign policy applied in the Southeastern Asia region which effectively worsened relations between the countries after the United States withdrew from the war. With the increase of open criticism of American foreign policies, several Canadian nationalist initiatives demanded less American influence to the Canadian culture. With time, such calls on culture escalated to the point of the National Energy Program being developed. Representing a direct economic attack on the U.S, the relationship between the two countries became worse.
The relations between both countries worsened especially under the administrations of Pierre Trudeau of Canada and Richard Nixon of the U.S. At first; both leaders seemed to be getting along. However, with time, things got out of hand when President Nixon canceled the Bretton Woods economic agreement without warning. This move led to a 10% surcharge on all imports which greatly affected Canada. However, as Pierre Trudeau tried to ease relations and talk to Nixon, the American president had a negative perception on the prime minister, which led to Pierre’s requests not being considered. Fortunately, while President Nixon later tried to better the relations, this did not do much to better the situation and in these periods, the economies of both countries were on the losing end. While support for free trade, the establishment of the NAFTA, and the weakening of agencies like the Foreign Investment Review Agency (FIRA) indicated an improvement in relations between 1984 to 1987, things escalated afterward.
In most cases, time and finding each other vital to the other’s success brings countries together and enables them to work harmoniously together. However, in the case of the U.S and Canada, the previous negative effects of their poor relations did not aid in fostering better relations but rather served to lay the foundation to the current relations between the two. The current prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and the president of the U.S, Donald Trump, have had their own share of poor relations. Despite both having claimed to have wonderful relations during the start of their terms, the situation gradually grew worse. While most people studying the situation might blame the U.S president, both presidents have, over time, developed the notion of responding to any move made by the other which in most cases makes things worse.
For instance, due to the decisions that Trump has been making over the past few months such as the punitive tariffs imposed on the EU and Canada, a G7 meeting was called which ended in situations getting worse than they were before the meeting. This is due to the comments made by Trudeau which angered Trump’s administration. Additionally, while both leaders continue to state their reason such as their willingness to protect their economies, the very thing they wish to protect is the one which might be greatly affected by their actions. Both presidents’ moves led to several clashes on social media, which effectively worsened the situation. Moreover, while several talks have been held since the G7 meeting, both leaders continue to show less interest, from their social media posts and comments, in solving the issues between them.
Several scholars that have been following the gradually worsening relations between both countries have indicated devastating effects of the leaders’ actions. While both presidents continue to state that their moves seek to improve their country’s economies, scholars have cited impending devastating effects if things are straightened up between the two. One of the major results of the moves the two leaders are taking is an emerging trade war. With the U.S being Canada’s largest trading partner, a trade war would essentially lead to great losses to Canada. A recent report by the CD Howe Institute highlighted several aspects that the trade war might affect. The most notable of these effects was the loss of 6000 jobs and a subsequent decrease in the GDP of the country by around 0.33%. However, whereas most of the areas being affected do seem to have a great impact on the economy in the short term, most of them would in the long run. The study also indicated that Canada would not be the only loser in the war since the U.S would also be losing around 22700 jobs and a subsequent decrease of 0.02% in their GDP (Cecco para. 8). However, since the U.S has more trading partners and alternatives, this might seem less hurtful. However, when the trade war the U.S is currently engaged in with China and the bad relations it has with other countries are considered, analysts have stated that it would be in the country’s best interests if they maintain better relations with most of their partners. Therefore, both administrations should be willing to sit down and solve the current predicament.
Even though the relations between Canada and the U.S have historically been shifting between good and worse, leaders from both countries are currently being faced by major consequences of the same and this requires immediate action. As a result, since they both have a say in the matter and decisions to make, this should be done promptly before the relations and the situation worsens. Additionally, while both can decide to hold on to their pride and the pride of their countries, their people are the ones who will be greatly affected by their decisions. It is recommended that they be different from the previous leaders and try and mend their relations and build new and better relations to improve and grow both countries.