The Current

Is Canada obliged to stand up to the Trump White House?

Should our government be reacting and creating policy based on the actions of the Trump administration? How should world leaders — including Canada's — respond to the new president's actions? Our panel of parliamentarians takes up that question.
A look at some of President Trump's executive actions and how they were received 2:33

Read story transcript

It has been a dizzying first 10 days of the Donald Trump administration: from approving the Keystone XL pipeline, to going full steam ahead on plans to build a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico; moving to repeal Obamacare; and the chaos-inducing executive order on immigration and refugees.

All that and more, in just over a week.

Now world leaders must calibrate their responses to Trump's bold actions, and the values they represent — leading to a dilemma for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Does he position Canada on the world stage as an antidote to Trump's controversial positions, even if it threatens the crucial relationship between the two countries?

"I think it's really important first off for Canada to represent the values and the interests of Canadians," federal NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti. 

Kwan says Canada has a responsibility to stand up for human rights on the world stage. 
U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a signed executive order to advance construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, Jan. 24, 2017. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

"After [Trump's visa] ban was announced, people reacted swiftly and loudly to say that this is not acceptable. And so we need to stand up to that."

But for Andrew Leslie tact is of paramount importance when dealing with the White House.

"The Americans, as we know so well, are our closest friend and biggest ally," he tells Tremonti.

Leslie is a retired lieutenant-general in the Canadian Forces, who is now the Liberal MP for the Ontario riding of Orleans, and the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, with special responsibilities for the American file.

"The temptation may be there to criticize them publicly but that's not what friends do. If you've got differences, you resolve them quietly," says Leslie.

"You resolve them person-to-person, based on longstanding relationships. And I think we're on track to do that."

Leslie adds that it's best to deal with these issues on what Canada is doing and let people draw their own inferences.

For Michelle Rempel — Conservative MP for Calgary Nose Hill and the party's immigration critic — Canada needs to be strong in the face of U.S. policies that conflict with Canadian values or interest.

"Canada is a sovereign nation, a very powerful sovereign nation where we can take our own positions and actions," Rempel tells Tremonti.

"And in doing so, we can show that Canada can be a world leader in best practices on things like immigration policy."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino and Sam Colbert.