After years of unstable and less-than-ideal relations with the United States, Canadians hope a Biden presidency will improve US-Canada relations, but some worry about the President-elect’s promise for a protectionist America and its impact on Canadian exports

Ciara McGarry, Associate News Editor

After waiting three and a half days for the results, Biden was declared the President-elect of the United States on November 7th, with Kamala Harris as the Vice President-elect. 

This election was of monumental importance for the United States of America and, indeed, for the rest of the world. The outcome of the election, however, has particularly high stakes for Canada, given their important economic relationship. While many Canadians celebrated Biden’s historic win, the country must ask itself: What does a Biden presidency mean for Canada? How will Canada’s relations with its largest trading partner evolve in the upcoming four years?

During his tenure, current President Donald Trump took issue with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), an agreement that facilitated the movement of labour and goods between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. While renegotiating NAFTA, Trump imposed levies on Canadian metals and frequently threatened trade wars.

The worsening of US-Canada relations may have also been impacted by Trudeau and Trump’s interpersonal conflict. In a viral moment, Prime Minister Trudeau was caught on video gossiping about Trump to a small group of world leaders, which consisted of Trudeau’s British and French counterparts. In response to the video, Trump called Trudeau “two-faced.”

On the contrary, President-elect Joe Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau appear to get along well. Just weeks after Trump was elected, Trudeau invited Biden to Ottawa for a dinner hosted in his honour, during which Biden highlighted his own personal connection to Canada and with Justin Trudeau’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. 

University of Toronto Professor Robert Bothwell, who is an expert on US-Canada relations, said in an interview with the Trinity Times that he has high hopes for a Trudeau-Biden cooperation: “[Biden] has no reason to be critical of Canada and quite the contrary… Don’t forget, of course, that Obama endorsed Trudeau in the Canadian election, so I would expect that Biden as his inherator would be entirely personally favourable to Trudeau and the Liberal government.”

Despite this, some Canadians fear Joe Biden’s view on protectionism and its potential effect on trade with Canada, which relies heavily on the USA as a trading partner. Throughout his campaign, Biden promoted ‘Buy American’ policies, emphasizing the importance of purchasing domestically produced goods to bolster the American economy. 

Bothwell, however, describes US-Canada trade relations under Biden compared to trade relations under Trump as “a case between maybe a little bad and horrendous,” emphasizing the newfound stability that Biden will likely bring to US-Canada relations. 

After the announcement of Biden and Harris’s victory, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted his congratulations: “Our two countries are close friends, partners, and allies. We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage. I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both.”

Canadians too can look forward to a new era of stable and cordial relations with the United States, or, as Bothwell puts it: “We’ll actually be able to talk to them and look South and not just see red eyes and hear grunting.”

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