You might spot them in gas stations in Vernon, B.C., shopping malls in Saskatoon and wandering university campuses in Calgary. They are Canadian by nationality but identify with American patriots, donning a uniform of khaki shorts, T-shirts and #MAGA hats. Generally speaking, these individuals find nourishment in the reactions of their horrified peers, and burrow in the comments sections to remind online readers of Hillary Clinton's private email server — lest we forget.
The Canadian Trump supporter is an altogether fascinating breed, if only because his very existence necessitates a powerful form of cognitive dissonance. He is a walking paradox.
These people don't hate Canada — in fact, if you take the time to chat with them, most will tell you how much they love Canada (and despise what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has "done" to it, but never mind) and yet, at the same time, consider themselves steadfast Donald Trump supporters. They are northern cheerleaders for Trump's wall, for his crackdown on illegal immigrants and his supposed swamp drainage, but still value a strong Canadian border and robust economy — both of which are compromised by Trump's xenophobic rhetoric and proclivity for surrounding himself with political newbies.
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The problem here is a total disregard for cause and effect: to support Donald Trump's efforts in America is to de facto support endeavours that threaten Canada economically, socially and in terms of national security. Making America Great Again absolutely means Making Canada A Little Worse. What patriotic Canadian would wear a hat supporting that?
The most obvious manifestation of Trump's pernicious effect on Canada is playing out in our countries' ongoing NAFTA negotiations. Needless to say, Canada needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs us, with trade between the two countries amounting to almost half the GDP of some provinces.
Trump's protectionist instincts might not actually see to the total abandonment of the trade deal — as he has threatened multiple times in the past — but whether the concessions come in the form of a new dispute resolution process or particular rules on U.S. content in North American-made vehicles, it's unlikely that Canada will emerge from these talks better off than it was before. Trump promised to Make America Great Again by reducing its dependence on trade and seeing to more American-made products and jobs for American workers. That's bad news for Canada.
Still wearing that hat?
What's more, the unmanageable movement of migrants from the U.S. into Canada is unquestionably a result of the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigrants and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has arguably made the situation worse by essentially declaring Canada "open" to asylum seekers (spoiler: it is not), but there's a reason why that message has resonated so widely instead of falling on deaf ears as it would in normal times: Trump.
Early in Trump's presidency, asylum seekers cited his campaign rhetoric as a motivating factor in them risking their lives to leave the U.S. That is still true, but since then, policy has caught up to rhetoric: Haitian TPS recipients have been given six months to leave the U.S., so of course they're going to try their luck in Canada.
Now, young people living in the U.S. under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) face an uncertain future following this week's announcement that Trump will rescind the program. There have already been suggestions that Canada should absorb them, which makes sense, considering they are educated and have no criminal records — the type of people Canada should want to welcome. But there are practical, political and social concerns with accepting large numbers of migrants from the U.S., especially if and when they cross into Canada illegally.
Simply put, this border crisis was catalyzed by the rhetoric and actions of the Trump administration. So while Trump fans in Canada are rah-rahing his take-no-prisoners (I suppose, if we're being literal, that should be: "take lots of prisoners") attitude towards illegal immigrants in the U.S., they should recognize that Canada is grappling with the consequences of that rhetoric. The tent village that popped up along the Quebec border last month was the physical manifestation of that.
Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!— @realDonaldTrump
All of this is to say nothing of the existential threat Trump poses to the world by threatening nuclear war on Twitter, which should be a concern to anyone who currently enjoys living above ground, regardless of geography.
So while Canadian Trump supporters might delight in the way Trump "tells it like it is," in the same way one might find it amusing to watch a toddler ask socially inappropriate questions of a stranger, that's as far as the admiration should go from any self-described patriotic Canadian. His presidency is bad news for us. It makes no sense to support him.