Some commentators (well, at least one) have said that the election of ‘Progressive’ Conservative Doug Ford (brother of the late Rob Ford, disgraced mayor of Toronto) to the premiership of Ontario in June does not represent a populist contagion seeping north from Trumpicana. I’m not so sure. It may well be that Ford does not stand on the same anti-immigrant platform as Trump – Canada so far does not seem to have fallen prey to that hostility – but he does share Trump’s disregard for action on climate change. One of his first acts was to join an action against a federal carbon cap and trade scheme, and he opposes support for renewables.
Energy is a big issue in Canada, and it could be decisive in ejecting Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister in Canada’s general election next year. He appears to be riding two horses, backing Alberta’s oil sands industry (with federal funds for a new pipeline) and yet supporting the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. According to Bloomberg, “Conservatives have focused on the government’s climate policies to rally their supporters. Support for Trudeau’s Liberal Party has fallen, putting it in a rough tie with the rival Conservative Party. Trudeau’s chief opponent in next year’s federal election, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, has said one of the first things he will do as prime minister is eliminate the carbon tax.”
Current polls put Trudeau’s Liberals three points behind Scheer’s Conservatives. Of course, the Liberals could rebound, but bearing in mind what happened to them in Ontario in June, where they nearly lost all their seats, the momentum is hardly with them. Admittedly, a provincial election is not a general election, but it’s the same activists who have to be motivated to get out and fight campaigns.
If Trump can lavish praise on numpties like Boris Johnson, I would bet he will be watching the likes of Ford with interest. Whilst Ford/Trump populism is not identical in nature, there are enough issues in alignment for us to expect Trump’s attitude to Trudeau’s remaining time in office before the Canadian general election next year to become ice cold, if it isn’t already. For cultural reasons, I don’t suppose mainstream Conservatives in Canada would want to be too closely associated with Trump in this period, but their backers in the fossil fuel industries will be straining at the leash.
Come what may, with a Canadian general election next year, and a US presidential election the following (not to mention US mid-terms this November) it is abundantly clear that the UK will be making brilliant trade deals in North America post-Brexit. The future’s hardly looked clearer.