The Current

Rift between Trump and Trudeau could be first step towards a recession, warns former foreign affairs minister

The war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been called "unprecedented" by observers. Former foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay says it's alarming and could even lead to a recession if it persists.

Peter MacKay suggests calling on critical allies to help 'normalize' trade relationship

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, meets with U.S. President Donald Trump during the G7 summit on June 8, 2018. Experts have called the public animosity brewing between Trump and Trudeau 'unprecedented.' (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Read Story Transcript

Experts are calling the public animosity brewing between U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the G7 summit unprecedented, alarming — and a possible first step towards a recession in Canada. 

If Trump makes good on his threat to impose new tariffs on the auto industry, there could be serious repercussions for Canada, warns former foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay.

"This is an enormous part of the economy in Ontario but it has a ripple effect right across the country," he told The Current's guest host Connie Walker.

"This is the type of thing over time that could lead to a recession. And in the meantime the United States' economy, against all odds one would expect given the volatility of the president and the relationships that are in jeopardy around the world, their economy is humming."

MacKay, a member of former prime minister Stephen Harper's cabinet between 2006 and 2007, suggested Canada needs to reach out to critical allies such as Congressional colleagues and heads of industrial sectors in the U.S. to help "normalize relations."

Christopher Sands, director of the Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University, said that what's being tested is how much "an American president can beat up on Canada."

"Canada for most Americans is not really a foreign relationship — it's a familiar one," said Sands. He told Walker Canada interacts with the States on a daily basis far more than any other country.

"We do have a trade disputes. But politicians have been very careful to make those very issues specific criticisms without criticizing Canada writ large or attacking Canadian politicians in public."

Sands predicts if Trump persists with a war of words, many in Congress who are "not comfortable with this degree of bellicosity between the two countries" will part ways with the president.

Listen to the full conversation near the top of the page.

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino and Pacinthe Mattar.


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