Trade concerns prevail after Trump victory

By Jill Sperling
November 9, 2016 - 3:32pm Updated: November 10, 2016 - 11:17am

KAMLOOPS — The result of Tuesday night's election came as a shock to many, both in the United States and around the world. 

As America's neighbours to the north, Canadians are now left wondering what a Donald Trump presidency means for trade relations, and how his promises of change could effect the economy here at home. 

Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod says the Liberal government has some challenges ahead when it comes to negotiating with the president-elect.

"They have to make sure they deal with things like the softwood lumber agreement, the trade irritants, make sure that we continue to have a strong movement between our borders," she said, "so I think the liberal government has some important responsibilities in terms of their relationship with this new government." 

Trump argued for protectionism throughout his campaign, even stating he would tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Retired TRU political studies instructor Ray Pillar says Trump has a completely different attitude towards trade than the Canadian government. 

"When you consider just two weeks ago we signed a free trade agreement with Europe and we've got a president who's campaigned on tearing up NAFTA, our free trade agreement with them, it would appear we've got about a 180 degree difference in our policies on trade," Pillar said.

Kamloops mayor Peter Milobar says Trump's views on trade could impact negotiations over the Softwood Lumber Agreement, a frightening thought for a community that places a lot of value on the forestry sector.

"You look at all the area sawmills that we have from a very large geographic area that rely on Kamloops as a service centre, there's a lot of people employed within the forest sector, Domtar relies on those mills as well for a lot of their chips and their fuels," Milobar said, "a lot of interconnections and a lot of it all tied to softwood lumber, so the hope is the impacts won't be that great." 

The view of Trump's presidential plan isn't all negative. McLeod says his plans to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline would be positive for Canada.

"The Liberal government supported it, we supported it, Trump indicated he would support it," McLeod said. "I think that's one file that we could maybe move forward on that's mutually beneficial to all of us." 

With Republicans in control of both the house and the senate, Pillar says Trump has more power to implement his plans than any president in recent history. 

However, no matter what he chooses to do, nothing will happen immediately. 

"Change happens slowly," Pillar said. "No matter how keen you are to reverse everything you just cannot do it overnight." 

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