Justin Trudeau was down in the first of 3 rounds with Patrick Brazeau in the charity boxing match. The first round really didn't go well for Trudeau. As Canadian politics fans know very well, Trudeau outlasted the much-larger Brazeau where the fight was stopped in Trudeau's favour in the 3rd round.
The Canadian prime minister knows that the fight on NAFTA and trade is a long battle. Prime Minister Trudeau is up against Donald Trump, known for short-term, not well-thought-out thinking. Even with Trump's bombastic nature, expect Trudeau to outlast Trump in a trade fight.
The best takeaway from the initial meeting had little to do with policy but everything about a handshake. Several people, including world leaders, were taken off-guard by Trump's abnormally aggressive handshake. Justin Trudeau went on offence in anticipation and grabbed Trump's shoulder with his left hand to prevent his arm from being yanked by Trump.
The Canadian prime minister got a little extra mileage yesterday when Sean Spicer referred to a long-distant family connection named "Joe Trudeau."
But let's get down to issues.
The purpose of the meetings and to take trade. Trudeau emphasized the line about Canada being the #1 exporting country to 35 states. In the press conference, Trump talked about tweaking the relationship, though he conceded that both countries would win in a revised trade deal.
Trump spent most of his time during the press conference on terrorism. Like with trade, there were no specifics.
Canada may be worried about softwood lumber or the eggs and dairy industries, but we're not this U.S. government has a game plan to this point. Even if Trump sounded conciliatory, what is said today isn't always backed up by the same words the next day.
The Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs is the most intriguing element to come out of the talks in Washington. 5 female CEOs each from the 2 countries will make up a board to give recommendations.
In Canada, this makes more sense. Trudeau is a known feminist and his government, including a 50% female cabinet. is friendly to women. In the United States, Trump's reputation with women is rather poor on a number of issues. Even with female business entrepreneur/daughter Ivanka Trump as part of the event, women and the Trump brand feel like there is a wall in between them. Even if you somehow think Trump is female-friendly, the GOP-led House and Senate are just as hostile.
Progress on this issue, even if that is only on the Canadian side. is long overdue.
Unfortunately, this was not a discussion on travel bans, immigration, or the fact that people are running and risking their lives to go from the United States to Canada. Ronald Reagan had a throwaway line about how they are coming here, not in the other direction. Well, they are running for the border to get out. If it was easier for Americans to leave, large Canadian cities would get even larger.
From Statistics Canada on the 2016 census: "The three largest CMAs in 2016 — Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver — were home to more than one-third of all Canadians (35.5 per cent), with a combined population of 12.5 million." Montréal now has 4 million people.
One casualty of the Trump reign that is becoming apparent is that in a year where Canada is a tourism draw, tourism in the United States, especially from Canada, may significantly drop. Short-term traffic from Windsor is dropping, and even The New York Times is paying attention.
With the low Canadian dollar, Canadians were less likely to do cross-border shopping anyway. The 4 Moroccans who were turned back were just going shopping in Burlington, VT. The only thing that would have saved that is if the U.S. dollar dropped dramatically. While that hasn't happened yet under the Trump reign, a tariff war would accelerate the possibility.
If Canadians pull their money from shopping destinations such as Burlington, VT and Bellingham, WA, that will hurt U.S. local economies. Don't be fooled thinking this will only apply to people in specific categories. You could be asked at the border about Trump, and if that perception is seen as negative, your chances of crossing get reduced.
Canadians don't have a special take on what is happening. International tourism has a likely chance of dropping as well into the United States. But Canadians do make up a significant portion of U.S. tourism.
Business travel should keep up at normal paces but only because businesses tend to move slower on trends. If you aren't sure your employee will make it to a meeting in Chicago or New York, you might just cancel that trip and uses services such as Skype.
We will be able to tell if tourism numbers drop, if the Trump reign doesn't try to stop those numbers from being posted (U.S. government numbers have been disappearing left and right since January 20).
photo credit: Twitter/@realdonaldtrump
screen grab: MSNBC
video credit: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah