OTTAWA _ Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reminding the 45th president of the United States about Canada’s historically close ties with its southern superpower neighbour.
The subtext of Trudeau’s inauguration day statement is, of course, the myriad unknowns that surround what might be in store for Canada as the irrepressible billionaire Donald Trump moves into the White House.
“Canada and the United States have built one of the closest relationships between any two countries in the world,” the statement reads. “This enduring partnership is essential to our shared prosperity and security.”
“Robust” trade, investment and inexorable economic links have long tied together the two countries, supporting millions of Canadian and American jobs, it continues.
“We both want to build economies where the middle class, and those working hard to join it, have a fair shot at success,” Trudeau says, citing one of his oft-repeated political mantras.
“Canada and the United States have unparalleled co-operation on matters of national security, and have always worked side by side to protect our citizens and ensure our shared border is secure.”
Trudeau said he looks forward to working with Trump’s administration as well as Congress, state and local governments “to restore prosperity to the middle class on both sides of the border, and to create a safer and more peaceful world.”
Earlier Friday, the prime minister urged the mayors of Canada’s biggest cities to keep close ties with their American counterparts to maintain an open border with the U.S. Those relationships will be vital to ensuring open dialogue and trade between the two countries, he said.
He also asked the mayors to ensure people on both sides of the border understand the importance of working “constructively and productively.”
The mayors say their relationships with municipal leaders on the other side could serve as a counterbalance to any protectionist movements initiated by the Trump administration, given the trade ties between Canada and American cities and states.
“The United States is not just one president,” said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who pointed to an upcoming meeting he has with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the issue of climate change.
“It’s a complex system and we’ll do what we have to do. We are already working really hard with different colleagues from south of the border.”
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who was at Barack Obama’s inauguration eight years ago as a private citizen, said he hopes Canada remains open to immigrants from all over the world should Trump follow through on his protectionist threats.
“If in fact we are out of fashion because we speak out loudly for openness and pluralism, then not only let’s be out of fashion, but let’s seize that opportunity,” Nenshi said.
“If we’re in a world where our largest trading partner becomes more closed to trade, let’s become more open. Let’s ensure that we are open to the world, to trade, to brains to money to ideas and make sure that we seize on this opportunity.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory said there will be goodwill on the Canadian side to keep the lines of communication open along with the border. Canadian mayors will have to see how the Americans react, but sitting in the Oval Office could change Trump, Tory said.
“The moment anybody assumes one of these offices it changes … your outlook. You suddenly are inherited with this huge responsibility. You realize you have to represent and lead everyone. So I’m hopeful that President Trump will understand that with that office,” Tory said.
But, he added: “It’s Day 1. We’ll see.”