The hottest topic of conversation in Ottawa these days is what might happen if Donald Trump is elected, according to the trio of journalists appearing on the “At Issue” segment of CBC’s news program The National last night.
Asked by Peter Mansbridge if government officials are “edgy” about the prospect of a Trump victory, veteran journalist Robert Fife said the current mood in Ottawa is “one of fear, to be honest.”
“Whether it’s from the Prime Minister down to Cabinet Ministers, Supreme Court justices, Deputy Ministers even common security guards are talking about it,” Fife said.
Foremost among the worries about a Trump victory is the potentially devastating effect his election would have on the global economy. “You know you’re going to have a market downfall, pretty significant, I think,” Fife opined.
Another major concern more specifically related to Canada is that of trade and the fact Trump has repeatedly vowed to rip up the “disastrous” North American Free Trade Agreement and has also threatened to impose a blanket 35% tariff on automobile imports. “Just think of the impact on the Canadian economy of that happening, said Fife.
National Post columnist Andrew Coyne stated that even more concerning than Trump’s “troubling” policies, “where he’s been on every side of every issue,” is that of his “character, judgment, lack of knowledge, etcetera.”
In Coyne’s estimation, “You’ve just never seen anybody so manifestly unfit and unqualified for the job. It’s an extraordinary indictment of the American political process that it’s gotten this far. You could literally take ten people off the street and nine of them would be better qualified to be president than Donald Trump. He’s almost a composite of everything you would not want in a President.”
And while Hillary Clinton’s populist stance on trade that she expediently adopted during the primary campaign could also be problematic for Canada in terms of likely translating into generally more protectionist policies, the panelists were inclined to view it rather cynically, comparing her approach to that traditionally taken by a number of other politicians, including the outgoing president, who all ran against trade during an election but then wound up pragmatically “accommodating themselves” once in office.
“You get the vibe from her, particularly given her past track record, that’s more or less what’s going on here,” said Coyne.