U.S. trade relations will be topic of concern during Trudeau's visit to Calgary
Published Monday, January 23, 2017 5:49AM MST Last Updated Monday, January 23, 2017 7:14PM MST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Calgary for the next leg of his cross-Canada tour, and our country's relationship with the U.S. will be a major topic of discussion.
He arrived with his new cabinet on Sunday and is spending the day on Monday with them in closed door meetings.
A number of topics are expected to be discussed, including Donald Trump's signing on Monday morning of an executive order withdrawing the States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Stephen Schwarzman, Trump's advisor and CEO of the Blackstone Group, spoke to Cabinet, and while he would not say what a future deal may look like, he did say that there is a "low risk of collateral damage" for Canada when it comes to NAFTA.
He also hinted at a border tax which could impact Canada's energy exports, but said it shouldn't be an issue.
"Canada has been a great partner of the United States for as long as anybody can remember, whether it’s open borders, trade that moves back and forth, and there is a changed climate, there may be some modifications but basically things should go well for Canada in terms of any discussions with the US,” he said.
He was vague on the Keystone X-L Piepline, saying only that the new American administration has a different view about the project than the last government.
The Trudeau government had enjoyed a smooth relationship with the United States under Barack Obama, but now the Liberals are expecting to have a major reset with President Trump’s administration.
Over the weekend, Trump told the media that he has already scheduled meetings with Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
"I ran a campaign somewhat based on NAFTA," Trump said. "But we're going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration, on security at the border."
The date of the meeting between Trudeau and Trump has yet to be announced.
Political experts say that Trudeau’s Calgary visit will also be a test of his popularity in the city at a time when it is especially critical.
Deadlines are closing in for byelections in two ridings left open by two Conservative MPs; former Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Calgary-Heritage and Jason Kenney in Calgary-Midnapore.
“I think the honeymoon is over for Trudeau now that he's made some tough choices and got into some personal scandal. I think he still remains popular, the question is how popular is he in Alberta? Anytime the economy isn't going well you often blame the government in charge,” said Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt.
The cabinet meetings will be private but Calgarians will have a chance to question Trudeau on Tuesday night when he visits the University of Calgary.
He will be holding a town hall meeting where he is expected to face tough questions over his recent comments about needing to phase out the oil sands.
On January 13, he told an audience in Peterborough, Ontario, that Canada will eventually need to phase out the oilsands and ‘transition off our dependence on fossil fuels’.
The comments drew swift reaction from many people in the province, including Wildrose leader Brian Jean, who said that he was ‘sick and tired’ of people attacking the oilsands.
“If Justin Trudeau plans on shutting down and phasing out our oilsands, he’s going to have to come through four million people and me before he is able to do it,” he said.
Tuesday’s town hall meeting will allow anyone to come forward with their questions.
(With files from the Canadian Press)