Montreal

Quebec braces for President Donald Trump

The Quebec government is readying itself for a shift in relations with its partners south of the border, with Donald Trump just hours away from being sworn in as the 45th U.S. president.

'Life is no longer as it was before,' says province's international relations minister

Donald Trump was critical of free trade during the election campaign. The U.S. accounts for roughly 70 per cent of Quebec's exports. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

The Quebec government is readying itself for a shift in relations with its partners south of the border, with Donald Trump only hours away from being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

The changes could come sooner rather than later.

Trump, a strident critic of free trade, campaigned on a promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

His choice for secretary of commerce made it clear this week that doing so will be a priority.

"Ìt is logically the first thing for us to deal with," said Wilbur Ross, a billionaire businessman who gained prominence for creating four companies through mergers and acquisitions that focused on steel, textiles, autos and coal.

"We ought to solidify relationships in the best way we can in our own territory before we go off to other jurisdictions."

U.S. accounts for 70% of exports

Quebec's economy, in particular manufacturing, is heavily dependent on access to the U.S. market.

According to a recent Desjardins Group economic study, roughly 70 per cent of the province's exports are destined for the U.S. market.

Roughly 90 per cent of Quebec's lumber exports head to the U.S. (The Canadian Press)
With Trump in office, Quebec International Relations Minister Christine St-Pierre said she expects the province's economic relationship with the U.S. to change.

"Life is no longer as it was before," St-Pierre, who is planning to attend the inauguration, told The Canadian Press in an interview last week.

"We're seeing things on the horizon, things that are disquieting."

Chief among them is the issue of the province's lumber industry, which is hoping for a new deal on softwood lumber.

Roughly 90 per cent of Quebec's lumber exports head to the U.S.

The forestry sector accounts for 60,000 jobs in Quebec.

Show some muscle, Lisée says

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée has argued the province should adopt a more nationalist economic stance to prepare itself for the changes to come.

"We have to show some muscle, defend our jobs, our market share in the years ahead," he said in a speech last Sunday.

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée argues Quebec should take on a more nationalist economic stance. (Clement Allard/Canadian Press)
Lisée has asked the party's finance critic, Nicolas Marceau, to draw up proposals for buy-local legislation.

As examples, they pointed to various Buy American provisions passed by the U.S. Congress, which require public funds be spent within the country.

with files from The Canadian Press

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