“[Ross is] someone who is very much a critic of how other governments manage things, who’s a low-tax, low-regulation person and who’s very aggressive in pushing U.S. business interests, very much America-first,” Sands told The West block’s Tom Clark. “To put him in charge of enforcement certainly suggests this could be a tough period for Canada-U.S. relations, in those areas where we really are in dispute.”
With Trump in the White House, Canada can expect to butt heads with the United States on a number of issues including softwood lumber, military spending and value-added taxes, which Canadians know as GST.
Sands’ advice for Canada during what might be a trying few years is to stand its ground.
“One of the things about Donald Trump that we’ve seen on display this entire campaign season is his personality – he’s a bit of a bully. He comes on strong and he’s used to dominating the room,” Sands said.
“I think it’s a big mistake with bullies to appear to cower or offer concessions, because they don’t respect you. And I think Canada is right to take a nationalist position and defend Canadian positions.”
While it’s important for Canada to not bend to Trump, Sands noted this country isn’t “target number one” for Trump and Ross; China and Mexico, or even the European Union, are likely higher on the list, he said.
And that can play to Canada’s advantage if a chunk of Ross and Trump’s time is spent fighting trade matters with other countries.
If Canada plays below the surface, manages to separate Trump’s rhetoric from reality and allows other states’ fights to distract the presidency, “I think Canada will navigate that somewhat well,” Sands said.