President Donald Trump’s popularity has never been extremely tangible in Canada, but there are signs of displeasure from American voters in reaction to his belligerent behavior during the recent G7 summit, particularly in regards to his verbal sparring match with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. According to Global News, merely 37 percent of Americans polled by Ipsos on the question of whether they approved of how President Trump was handling the tariff affair reacted positively, compared to 63 percent who said that the current administration was not doing a good job on the file.
Canadians were predictably even more critical of President Trump’s position, with only 14 percent of Canadians polled supporting the American President whilst a whopping 86 percent were opposed to his tough talk.
The fiery rhetorical exchanges began in earnest following the conclusion of the summit, as President Trump departed early for his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. While the President was en route, Prime Minister Trudeau held a press conference in which he reiterated that “Canadians are polite; we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around” on the subject of trade, particularly tariffs being floated on Canadian steel products.
President Trump responded with a one-two punch of angry tweets that indicated it was hypocritical of PM Trudeau to posture on the trade tariff issue publicly while presenting a friendly face during their meeting just hours previous, and further arguing that Canada’s exorbitant dairy tariffs that have been in place for nearly half of a century are unfair to American farmers.
PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.” Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2018
Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2018
Finally, top-level presidential aide Peter Navarro excoriated the Canadian Prime Minister on Fox News, verbally attacking his behavior.
“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” Navarro said. “And that’s what bad faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference. That’s what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did. And that comes right from Air Force One.”
The polls by Ipsos and Reuters go on to illuminate a few more specific questions, and the results show a desire at least some moderation and mindfulness before brash action on both sides of the border. When asked if Canada shouldn’t over-react to President Trump’s recent comments, as it was simply political posturing related to ongoing NAFTA negotiations – 57 percent of Canadians and 52 percent of Americans polled were against over-reaction; a slim minority. The spat has also created greater support, in Canada at least, for NAFTA – 83 percent of those polled support the North American Free Trade Agreement, up from 74 percent last year.
Ipsos CEO Darrell Bricker told Global News that this recent uptick could be due to all of the media coverage surrounding the event, a “superficial rallying behind the flag” for Canadians inasmuch as “What the attention has done is given Canadians some sense of what they could potentially lose.” Bricker told the Canadian broadcaster.
With a full 71 percent of Americans in agreement when polled on the question of whether this trade tiff has damaged relations between the two great allies, it is unclear whether President Trump will provide a more measured response in future dealing with the Canadian Prime Minister, though the polling data does suggest it would be a wise and expedient political move.