Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has never been known to excel at foreign affairs. But he had better brush up, because on Thursday, United States President Joe Biden comes to town.
This will be Biden’s second official visit to Canada and his first as president; he was last in Ottawa in 2016 as President Barack Obama’s VP. The world has changed a lot since then; between the Donald Trump years, the COVID pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine and the consolidation of Xi Jinping’s power in China, sometimes it feels as though we are living in an alternate universe. During this time, Canada’s relationship with the U.S. has also been transformed — and not for the better.
The bruising years of NAFTA re-negotiations with the Trump administration failed to deliver results in several key sectors, including softwood lumber. Canada’s softwood deal with the U.S. expired in 2015 and, since then, successive administrations have avoided signing a new one. As a result, Canadian softwood producers paid over $8 billion in tariffs between 2017 and 2022.
Another area where the U.S. has been reluctant to engage is curbing illegal border crossings into Canada. Ever since Trudeau’s tweet in 2017 in response to Trump’s Muslim travel ban, “Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” illegal migrants have poured across the border, with 40,000 crossing in 2022 alone, mostly at Roxham Road in Quebec. This has cost the Canadian taxpayer $94 million since 2021 just for hotel rooms to house them, not to mention the millions in social welfare costs.
Then there’s national security. The recent exclusion of Canada from the AUKUS defence pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. was a slap in the face to our country. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering our woeful contribution to NATO efforts and the pitiful state of our Armed Forces.