When Justin Trudeau met virtually with U.S. President Joe Biden this week, the prime minister suggested that relations between the two countries had taken a significant hit during Donald Trump’s administration, noting that “there’s a lot to rebuild.”
Tensions over trade culminated in tariff battles during Trump’s term in the White House, and his use of Twitter to blast the prime minister certainly put a chill on their relationship.
However, despite the often-tense relationship between the Trudeau and Trump, tough deals were still forged, including a revamped NAFTA agreement, while the countries continued to co-operate on longstanding issues.
“The relationship between the United States is so deep and so broad that you can’t characterize it simply in terms of whether or not an individual president and a prime minister get along” said David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2016 to 2019.
“Having said that, I think it is of huge value if they do,” he said. “There are times when having that kind of close personal relationship can make a difference. So I think it’s desirable, but it’s not essential.”
Yet MacNaughton said the reality was that Canada and U.S. continued to have a constructive relationship on the meaningful files.
For example, the military and intelligence relationship between the two countries continued to be very strong, he said.
While negotiations for the new NAFTA agreement — the Canada–U.S.–Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) — were tough, an agreement was still hashed out, MacNaughton said.
“And frankly, I’m not sure if we were renegotiating NAFTA today, we would have an easier time with [the Biden administration].”
As well, key figures from Donald Trump’s administration were able to forge strong relations with Canada and members of Trudeau’s team. Sonny Perdue, the U.S. secretary of agriculture was a “great friend,” while former treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and former finance minister Bill Morneau “got along really well,” MacNaughton said.
Governors and premiers
And as CBC’s Aaron Wherry chronicled in his book Promise and Peril: Justin Trudeau in Power, Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford built a rapport with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who was also a senior adviser to the president.
Even Trump’s controversial chief strategist Steve Bannon had said he had developed a good relationship with Trudeau’s Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s principal secretary from 2015 to 2019.
Then there are the on-going Canada/U.S. relationships between governors and premiers, MacNaughton said. On a regular basis, the Atlantic, Western and Great Lakes premiers get together with their New England, Great Lakes and Western governor counterparts.
As well, there are bilateral mayoral, business and union relationships, he said.
“So to say the relationship was broken is putting too much emphasis on Donald Trump’s M.O.”
Chris Sands, director of the D.C.-based Wilson Center’s Canada Institute, said so much in the Canada/U.S. relationship is managed by unknown bureaucrats who continued working behind the scenes and were “getting important things done.”
That Canada was able to make a deal to keep the border restricted but not closed following the COVID-19 pandemic was a testament to the co-operation and trust we have [for] the Canadians,” he said.
‘Knows how to get things done’
“I don’t want to say that it was magic, but it was really good and it was a sign of a relationship that knows how to get things done,” Sands said.
“There were a lot of things that weren’t fun but they did get done in the Trump era and they’re still getting done now.”
Still, relations “did get pretty bad” as “trust was eroded over the last four years, particularly on the Canadian side toward the U.S,” said former American diplomat Scotty Greenwood, who spent four years as chief of staff of the U.S. Embassy in Canada.
“I do think that the relationship suffered. I do think the relationship between the leaders matters,” she said. “While there’s a certain inevitability of Canada/U.S. relations, there are still times when you really benefit from a good working relationship at the top to solve thorny issue or to create big opportunities.”
On that front, relations at the top were at times tumultuous with the president.
And some of that, at least, seemed to be sparked by Trump’s ire with Canada/U.S. trade deals and what he saw as Canada having an unfair trade advantage.
In 2017, Trump called Canada a “disgrace” for policies that he said hurt American farmers and would tweet a year later that “I love Canada but they’ve taken advantage of our country for many years!”
What eventually followed was the tense renegotiation of NATFA. But before that, Trump in June 2018, in the days leading up to the G7 leaders summit in La Malbaie, Que., slapped tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum imports.
This prompted a reportedly tense call between Trudeau and Trump over the tariffs. Trump reportedly at one point asked: “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” — a reference to the War of 1812.
‘Dishonest and weak’
The rhetoric became more heated after the summit, when Trump got word that Trudeau had said the tariffs were insulting and that Canada wouldn’t be pushed around. Taking to Twitter, Trump lashed back that the prime minister was “very dishonest & weak.”
Later, Trump’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro, remarked there was “a special place in hell” for Trudeau, while Trump’s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Trudeau had “stabbed us in the back.”
Such level of diplomatic vitriol prompted former prime minister Brian Mulroney to observe he had “never seen language like this. Least of all from subordinates of the president directed at the prime minister of their greatest friend and ally.”
WATCH | Trudeau caught complaining about Trump’s lateness:
A year later, however, there was another flareup. At a NATO summit reception in Buckingham Palace in London, Trudeau was caught on video complaining to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron that Trump was late because “he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.”
Trump would later respond that while Trudeau was “a very nice guy,” he’s “two-faced” and was just upset that he had challenged the prime minister to make a greater financial contribution to NATO.
WATCH| Trump responds to Trudeau:
Weeks later, Trump would take another shot at Trudeau when he learned his cameo in the film Home Alone 2: Lost In New York had been edited out of CBC’s broadcast. (CBC said it had cut the scene before Trump was president and did it to make way for commercials.)
“I guess Justin T doesn’t much like my making him pay up on NATO or Trade!” Trump tweeted.
The relationship would come into focus again in June 2020 when Trudeau made headlines for his 21-second pause after being asked about Trump’s threat to use military force against protestors in the U.S.
WATCH | Trudeau’s 21-second pause:
Relations would be tested a few months later when Trump again slapped a tariff on Canadian aluminum, only to back down after Canada was set to impose retaliatory measures.
Yet despite these tensions, Trudeau was still able to work out and maintain a relationship with Trump, said former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson.
“It was difficult, but every Western leader had difficult relationships with Mr. Trump.”
Robertson said while other Western leaders gave up, Trudeau kept trying.
Most important relationship
“He had to because it’s our most important relationship,” Robertson said. “The one relationship our prime minister has to get right is the relationship with the United States.”
Greenwood, the former diplomat, said in an ironic twist, Trump’s threats to tear up NAFTA and his disruption of the system made the U.S. much more aware of the importance of Canada.
“What happened was the awareness of the economic relationship between the United States is maybe at an all-time high in Congress,” she said.
Greenwood, however, wondered if the new U.S. administration will be able to build from this new awareness.
“It seems to me the question is how will the prime minister, the president seize on the kind of awareness that now exists in the U.S … where policy makers appreciate more than ever our interconnectedness with Canada.”
IRCC: Canada welcomed over 35,000 new immigrants in June – Canada Immigration News
Canada recorded its strongest month for new permanent resident arrivals during the pandemic in June 2021, according to the office of Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
In a recent Globe and Mail article, the minister says “We are going to make good on our commitment to land 401,000 new permanent residents.”
Under its Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023, the Canadian government is seeking to welcome at least 401,000 new immigrants annually, beginning this year. Prior to the pandemic, this target was set at 341,000 newcomers.
The plan is the most ambitious in Canada’s history. Only once has Canada welcomed over 400,000 immigrants in a year. This took place in 1913, but Canadian immigration plummeted immediately after due to the onset of the First World War.
The minister’s office estimates that Canada welcomed over 35,000 new permanent residents in June. In follow up email correspondence with CIC News, the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said its preliminary figures show Canada welcomed 35,700 immigrants last month. This figure is significantly higher than Canada’s totals in recent months.
Canada got off to a strong start to the year. It welcomed 24,680 new immigrants in January but lost momentum in the months to follow. The country then welcomed 23,395 in February, 22,425 in March, and 21,155 in April, and 17,100 in May.
Altogether Canada has welcomed some 143,000 new permanent residents through the first six months of 2021 which remains well short of the pace it needs to welcome 401,000 newcomers by the end of this year.
In order to achieve this newcomer target, Canada needs to land another 258,000 immigrants — an average of 43,000 per month — over the rest of the year.
Welcoming this volume of immigration over the remaining six months will be difficult but there is an outside chance it can be achieved.
Prior to the pandemic Canada welcomed an average of 25,000 to 35,000 newcomers per month. Immigration levels tend to be higher in the warmer months as more newcomers arrive during favourable weather conditions and leading up to the start of the academic and business calendar in September.
In 2019, levels were stronger in the second half of the year compared to the first as Canada welcomed 180,000 newcomers between July and December.
Assuming Canada welcomes that same level in the second half of 2021, it will conclude the year at just over 320,000 new permanent residents which is still below its target.
However there are several tailwinds remaining that could propel Canada closer to its newcomer goal.
Some 23,000 additional Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) holders are now eligible to move to Canada after restrictions on them were eased on June 21st.
Anyone else newly approved for permanent residence can also immediately move to Canada as a result of this easing.
IRCC also introduced six new permanent residency streams that will enable some 90,000 international student graduates and essential workers to remain in Canada. The department’s goal is to process some 40,000 of these applications by the end of this year.
The third tailwind is also from the domestic pool of permanent residence candidates. IRCC has been breaking various Express Entry records throughout the year as it prioritizes Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates.
Draw sizes are larger than ever while cut-off scores are at record lows. According to IRCC, some 90 per cent of CEC candidates currently reside in Canada so it is easier for the department to transition them to permanent residence amid the pandemic than candidates abroad. IRCC has already issued nearly 100,000 Express Entry invitations this year which is almost double the invitations it issued at the same point in 2020. A significant portion of those invited during the pandemic should complete their permanent residence landing by the end of 2021.
The minister’s office told the Globe that the 45,100 permanent residence applications IRCC processed in June were the highest ever, which suggests that IRCC has the capacity to process and finalize the necessary number of applications to achieve its levels goal.
There are risks along the way that could disrupt IRCC’s plans. The global coronavirus situation remains volatile and things such as increased case levels and travel restrictions could get in the way. For example, Canada continues to restrict flights from its main newcomer source country, India.
A prolonging of this restriction could get in the way of IRCC’s goal. Further delays to COPR holder arrivals is another risk. IRCC is currently seeking to correspond with thousands of expired COPR holders to arrange their landing in Canada. This is a time-consuming process as IRCC needs to individually contact each COPR holder to ensure they have all the necessary documents to complete the immigration process.
Nonetheless, the coming months should see immigration levels remain high. There also remains a strong chance that monthly immigration totals will hit record highs by the end of the year due to the combination of more overseas arrivals and in-Canada applicants completing their landings.
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Sask. softball gets boost with Team Canada's bronze finish – CTV News Saskatoon
Members of the Saskatchewan softball community say Team Canada’s bronze medal win will help the future of the sport.
“Watching the Olympics, seeing Team Canada, seeing players that they recognize and names they recognize. It sets a drive for them to compete at the sport, and train hard, and have a goal and a dream of playing in the Olympics,” said Bryan Kosteroski, president of the Saskatoon Amateur Softball Association.
One of the names on Team Canada’s roster that stood out for Kosteroski was Jennifer Gilbert, who was born in Saskatoon.
“Now you look at Jennifer Gilbert, she was born in Saskatoon and has that Saskatchewan connection, they’re going to look at that and they’re going to say to themselves ‘you know what? I’m going to train, and I’m going to train hard. I want to be at the Olympic games in the future,” Kosteroski said.
“That’s the goal with all of these young ladies, that’s why they’re playing the sport, and that’s their drive, to play in the Olympics.”
Guy Jacobson, executive director for Softball Saskatchewan, said exposure coming to the sport of softball is always a good thing, and Team Canada’s win should have a big impact.
“It gives young players, especially young female players aspiring to maybe go further in the sport, an opportunity to think that there’s some great things down the path for them,” Jacobson told CTV News.
Disney to close almost all of its stores in Canada by next month – CBC.ca
Disney is planning on closing down almost all of its retail stores in Canada by next month.
The iconic chain announced in March that it planned to close 60 locations across North America this year, but had no specific comment on its Canadian locations, which at the time numbered 18.
“While consumer behaviour has shifted toward online shopping, the global pandemic has changed what consumers expect from a retailer,” the company’s statement at the time said. “Disney will remain flexible in its approach and continue to evolve its retail strategy to best meet the needs of consumers when and where they want.”
Since then, two stores in B.C. and one in Ontario have closed. It now appears as though almost all the remaining stores are slated to close down within weeks.
The chain currently has three locations in Vancouver, two in Calgary, two in Edmonton, one in Winnipeg, one in Ottawa five in the Greater Toronto Area and two elsewhere in Ontario. According to the store locator map on the company’s Canadian website, all but two of the GTA stores say they will be closed as of Aug. 18.
A spokesperson for Disney did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the fate of the two GTA stores not apparently slated for closure according to the chain’s website: one in the Eaton Centre downtown, and one in Scarborough in the eastern end of the city.
Shift to online
Retail analyst Bruce Winder says Disney has likely found more efficient ways to drive its brand and merchandise.
He says he expects the company will eventually connect its e-commerce platform shopDisney to its subscription streaming service Disney+.
The closure of Disney stores in Canada is part of sweeping changes hitting the retail industry and malls, Winder says.
“Malls are going to change considerably in terms of what they do and how they operate and what kind of stores are in there,” he says.
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