Justin Trudeau – Sands: Canada can’t let America take it for granted
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This serious problem warrants a reset in Canada-United States relations, and the start of a new administration is an opportunity to do just that, particularly at the start of this one. Biden’s position is weak domestically, and as a committed multilateralist, he needs allies like Canada to help him achieve his goals internationally, from addressing climate change to sustaining the challenge to China and Russia. Far from being helpless, Canada’s position vis-à-vis the Biden administration is strong, making this the time to push back.
Biden’s weak domestic position
Biden now leads a bitterly divided country. He won the election with more votes than Trump, but Trump won more votes than any losing candidate in U.S. history. Democrats underperformed in congressional and state races, and although the House of Representatives and Senate are controlled by Democratic majorities, the margins are narrow. This means that confirmation officials to staff the administration, budgets and other legislation will proceed only if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can count on nearly every Democratic representative and senator to vote together, and holdouts gain enormous leverage within the Democratic caucuses. Yet, since the Democrats are nominally in control of Congress, voters will blame Democrats for what is done and not done, regardless of the level of difficulty.
It is no secret that the two main political parties in the United States are also divided, with activist fringe groups in each party pulling the Democrats and Republicans away from centrist positions. Biden was a compromise candidate for Democrats, and historically has been more in tune with centrists than the party’s progressives. The same can be said for Pelosi and Schumer. What unites Democrats has been opposition to Trump. This is why Pelosi pursued a second impeachment of Trump and also why Biden made executive orders that undid Trump executive orders – such as Trump’s approval of a permit for the KXL pipeline – his first priority. Instead of showing strength, both Biden and Pelosi have acted in ways that reveal their weak hold on support from the Democratic base.