Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that his government is preparing for the “uncertainty” that a hypothetical second term in office for former President Trump would bring to his country and to its alliance with the United States.
Trudeau’s Cabinet gathered at a Montreal retreat to discuss the prospect of Trump’s return to office in the 2024 presidential election and to prepare a strategy.
Trudeau said Trump “represents uncertainty,” but that his government was able to manage Trump during his first term by demonstrating the mutual economic benefit that a strong U.S.-Canada alliance would bring.
“We don’t know exactly what he is going to do,” Trudeau said. “We made it through the challenges represented by the Trump administration seven years ago, for four years, where we put forward the fact that Canada and the U.S. do best when we do it together.”
At the retreat, the Canadian Cabinet was briefed by Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman and a panel of experts. The president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association in Canada, Flavio Volpe, also joined the discussion.
U.S.-Canadian relations worsened during the Trump administration, in particular over Trump’s isolationist trade policies, which included new tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada. Trump also called Trudeau “weak” and “dishonest” while in office.
Trudeau had refrained from directly criticizing Trump for much of his time in office, but their strained relationship reached its breaking point when Trudeau condemned Trump for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“What we witnessed was an assault on democracy by violent rioters incited by the current president and other politicians,” Trudeau said after the Capitol attack.
A recent poll suggests Canadians are concerned about the future of U.S. democracy. Nearly two-thirds said they are concerned that democracy would not survive another Trump term in the White House. Nearly 50 percent agreed with the statement that the U.S. is “on the way to becoming an authoritarian state.”
Trudeau’s remarks come as the 2024 presidential election season picks up, with the New Hampshire primary taking place Tuesday.
According to The Hill/Decision Desk HQ’s polling average of the GOP New Hampshire primary, Trump leads former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley by 13.9 percentage points, with 50.8 percent support followed by Haley’s 36.9 percent. Nationally, Trump leads by 56 points, with 68 percent support compared with Haley’s 12 percent.
The Associated Press contributed.