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The Council of Canadians rejects Trump and the populist right

Anti-Trump protest in Vancouver, November 10.

There have already been two demonstrations against President-elect Donald J. Trump in Canada.

The Toronto Star reports, “Toronto saw its first major demonstration [on Nov. 13] against Donald Trump’s surprise presidential election win, a rally that saw hundreds blaming his victory on the rise in the U.S. and Canada of racism, sexism, and intolerance toward the LGBTQ community.” And the Canadian Press notes, “Hundreds of people turned up in downtown Vancouver on [Nov. 10] to protest the results of the United States presidential election. Dozens of placards bobbed above the crowd with various slogans disparaging president-elect Donald Trump, ranging from ‘Build kindness, not walls’ and ‘Proud supporter of love’, to ‘Make America safe again’, and ‘Prejudice kills’.”

Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom comments, “The populist right is on a roll in France, Italy, Scandinavia, Holland and Eastern Europe. During Britain’s bruising debate over membership in the European Union, the populist right best articulated the anxieties of those who felt excluded. And now a right-wing populist is president-elect of the United States.”

Walkom highlights, “An Ipsos poll last week concluded that 70 per cent of Canadians disapproved of Trump’s victory. But the same poll found that 77 per cent of Canadians would consider voting for a candidate who ran on a Trumpian platform of stricter immigration controls, skepticism over free trade and tough-on-crime measures.”

Enter Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch. In the early hours of Nov. 9 when the US election results became clear, Leitch emailed her supporters: “Our American cousins threw out the elites and elected Donald Trump as their next president. It’s an exciting message and one that we need delivered in Canada as well. It’s the message I’m bringing with my campaign to be the next Prime Minister of Canada.” It is possible that Leitch could become the next leader of the Conservative Party when they hold their leadership vote on May 27, 2017.

And while Trump ran as an anti-establishment candidate speaking for those hurt by globalization, a commentary in the Washington Post notes, “An organizational chart of Trump’s transition team shows it to be crawling with corporate lobbyists, representing such clients as Altria, Visa, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Verizon, HSBC, Pfizer, Dow Chemical, and Duke Energy. …Trump’s tax plan would give 47 percent of its benefits to the richest one percent of taxpayers. …There’s a lot that Trump will upend, but if you’re a little guy who thinks Trump was going to upend things on your behalf or in order to serve your interests, guess what: you got suckered.”

Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America on January 20, 2017. Major mobilizations are already being planned in Washington for that day including #NotMyPresident and “Stand Against Trump, War, Racism and Inequality” protests, as well as a “Women’s March on Washington” the following day.

The Council of Canadians rejects Trump’s opposition to NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. His rhetoric against those deals does not reflect that the TPP would result in 771,000 jobs lost in all the signatory countries, nor that it would give transnational corporations more power to sue government over public interest legislation, nor that it would give pharmaceutical corporations – like those in his transition team – extended patent provisions and even greater profits. We remain a committed member of the global trade justice movement that envisions inclusive, environmentally-sustainable, non-colonial, and democratic economies and trading relationships.

We have also highlighted that climate justice requires trade justice – especially a rejection of the “investment protection” provisions in NAFTA and the TPP that allow transnational corporations like TransCanada to sue the US government for US$15 billion over its refusal of the Keystone XL pipeline. Meanwhile, Trump has said that he supports this 830,000 barrel per day tar sands pipeline, has up to $2 million invested in the companies behind the 570,000 barrels per day Dakota Access Pipeline now being resisted by thousands of Indigenous peoples at Standing Rock, North Dakota, and has promised to streamline the approval process for pipelines.

We also reject the ‘free trade vs isolationism’ framing that supporters of NAFTA and the TPP – including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama – have used. This simplistic and misleading construct leaves little room for a third choice: the progressive concept of ‘fair trade’ and the aspiration to build economies and trading relationships that are based on social and ecological justice, on the primacy of democratic rights over the profits of transnational corporations, and on the free movement of people rather than capital.

The Council of Canadians is committed to working with our American friends and allies (and all peoples around the world impacted by neo-liberalism, nationalism, racism and sexism) to build the better, just and inclusive world we all know is possible.