Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Joe Biden, then the outgoing U.S. vice-president, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle

Canada is ready to fight potential protectionism under Biden administration: Trudeau

Canada is ready to fight potential protectionism under Biden administration: Trudeau

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed Joe Biden as the next U.S. president on Monday despite Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election, but warned that Ottawa is ready to stand up for Canadian jobs and interests if the new administration seeks to erect barriers to trade.

During a news conference announcing federal funds to expand high-speed internet across Canada, the prime minister sidestepped questions about Trump’s allegations of electoral fraud. Trudeau said he has “confidence in the American electoral process as it has unfolded.”

When asked what message he would send to Trump, Trudeau said his message is the same for every American president: “I will work to defend Canadian interests. That’s my job.”

The election of Biden is a breath of fresh air for the Trudeau government after four tumultuous years dealing with the mercurial Trump, who personally attacked the prime minister on several occasions as his administration imposed punitive tariffs on Canadian steel, aluminum and other goods.

Yet Biden has talked about limiting foreign products in his plan to invest hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy over the next four years as part of what he has described as a Build Back Better strategy. That could have a big impact on Canadian jobs and interests.

Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, which represents more than 2,500 companies across the country, is one of those that have expressed concern about Biden’s plans — and called on Ottawa to redouble its efforts to keep trade flowing.

“Traditionally, Democrats have been more protectionist in their outlook,” CME president Dennis Darby said in a statement. “Mr. Biden campaigned promising to strengthen the Buy American Acts and Buy America, and these policies may force Canadian companies to invest in or relocate to the United States.”

The CME urged the Liberal government to continue lobbying U.S. senators and state governments to prevent an increase in protectionism, as well as changing Canada’s tax regime to help business.

Asked about an increase in U.S. protectionism under Biden, Trudeau said Canada has developed a great deal of experience in pushing back against the Trump administration’s tariffs as well as the negotiation of a new North American free trade agreement.

“The fundamental argument that we made every step of the way over the past four years — and we’ll continue to make into the future — is the fact that creating or imposing barriers on trade between Canada and the U.S. not only hurts Canada, but also hurts workers and companies in the United States,” Trudeau added.

“The integration of our supply chains, the close collaboration and co-operation between businesses and people on both sides of the border means it’s always better for us to have free-flowing goods and opportunities on both sides of the border as we work together to succeed in an increasingly competitive global market.”

Scotty Greenwood, a former American diplomat in Canada who now heads the Canadian-American Business Council in Washington, D.C., says it is important that Canada not become complacent on trade, with the Biden administration taking over after four years of Trump.

“There will be work to be done to make sure that the administration is reminded of the specifics of how integrated we are,” Greenwood said. “But it’s not going to be the kind of lift it was for the last four years.”

Specifically referring to some of the punitive tariffs and other unilateral trade actions taken against Canada by Trump over the past four years, Greenwood said: “You won’t see those kinds of tariffs and those kind of threats being levied against Canada or our other allies in a Biden-Harris administration.”

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat to the U.S. and vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, noted that Canada had to fight a decade ago when the Obama administration implemented restrictions on foreign goods in its own stimulus spending following the financial crash.

The Trudeau government should mimic what Stephen Harper’s Conservatives did back then, Robertson said, which included enlisting premiers to liaise with U.S. governors and negotiating a reciprocity agreement on procurement.

“It strikes me that Biden will want environmental and labour safeguards and this will be congruent with our own approach,” he added. “It means we should approach this bilaterally and aim for a Canada-U.S. agreement like in 2010 rather than trilateral (with) Mexico.”

The prime minister also said he will keep working with the Trump administration until Biden takes over on Jan. 20, including on efforts to get two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, released from Chinese detention.

Trudeau also went out of his way to congratulate Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris, who is to become vice-president. He said seeing a Black and South Asian American woman elected to the vice-presidency was inspiring, and a reminder that everyone has a place in the corridors of power.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2020.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada's oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta economy ‘still reeling,’ says ATB Financial

Alberta’s economy is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and… Continue reading

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

The Minnesota Wild celebrate their overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Eriksson Ek’s OT goal lifts Wild past Vegas 1-0

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal at 3:20 of overtime… Continue reading

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr., celebrates after hitting a double against the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Girardi, Segura have confrontation as Phils lose to Jays

Blue Jays 10 Phillies 8 DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — The injury-depleted Philadelphia… Continue reading

New York Islanders' Kyle Palmieri (21) returns to the bench after scoring during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Palmieri’s OT winner lifts Isles by Penguins 4-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The New York Islanders brought Kyle Palmieri home at… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing to examine an update from Federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19, Tuesday, May 11, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
Fauci says pandemic exposed ‘undeniable effects of racism’

ATLANTA (AP) — The immunologist who leads the COVID-19 response in the… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Feds face growing calls for answers after general overseeing vaccine effort sidelined

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is facing growing calls for answers… Continue reading

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Alberta MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

OTTAWA — Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails… Continue reading

A sign marks Stairs Place in the Hydrostone district in the North end of Halifax on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The street was named for William Grant Stairs, a Canadian explorer from Halifax who helped lead some of the most controversial expeditions through the African continent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Where the streets have explorers’ names, some Halifax residents call for change

HALIFAX — When builders created Halifax’s distinctive Hydrostone neighbourhood more than a… Continue reading

Riley Oldford, 16, suffers from cerebral palsy. He was the first youth in the Northwest Territories to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here he receives the needle from nurse practitioner Janie Neudorf in Yellowknife on Thursday May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Braden
People with disabilities even more alone during pandemic: cerebral palsy spokeswoman

YELLOWKNIFE — Riley Oldford is usually out playing sledge hockey or hanging… Continue reading

Most Read