June 19th, 2018

Big changes for Canada-U.S. relations with Trump, cabinet

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on January 11, 2017.

With President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration set to take place on Jan. 20, it goes without saying we are entering a new era of politics and personalities in the United States. Mr. Trump’s cabinet has been largely filled in at this point in time, and it’s an interesting one. Interesting because most in the cabinet are white males over the age of 60, and many of them are well established in their public life or private enterprises.

But there is another underlying current to Trump’s choices: These are not status quo men, and more than a few of them have been, in the words of some, “shafted” by the political establishment in the past. These are men out to prove themselves, and several have big axes to grind with the system.

A standout in this regard is Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for secretary of state. The former ExxonMobil executive was with company for 41 years, and stuck with it through some dark times. (Exxon Valdez anyone?) Tillerson has also been honoured by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself with the “Order of Friendship.” Expect a business-first approach to U.S. foreign relations in Tillerson’s term in office. A significant fact which makes Canada’s former foreign affairs minister, the intellectual and idealistic Stephane Dion, a poor fit for relations with Tillerson. Thus the reason Dion is out, and Chrystia Freeland, who comes from a business and trade background, is in.

Another notable in the second chance, axe-to-grind vein is Trump’s pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Sessions as Alabama State Attorney in the 1970s and 1980s was a relentless opponent of the Ku Klux Klan. He was so successful he was touted as a potential U.S. attorney general under the Ronald Reagan administration. Allegations of personal racism, however, derailed his chances then, and have continued to haunt him as an elected Senator. Sessions is adamant his has been mischaracterized, but time will prove it one way or another as he enters Trump’s cabinet.

It’s a similar story for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin, the former Goldman Sachs executive who was called a “vulture” for his swooping to take advantage of the 2008 housing bubble crisis, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who twice failed in his bid to be the Republican presidential candidate after displaying moments of ineptitude and confusion on the campaign trail.

It is also no secret several of Trump’s cabinet secretaries are ex-Marines and Special Forces officers. This fact taken alongside the belligerent personalities of incoming civilian secretaries, and the aggressive personality of the president-elect himself, and it appears Trump may be preparing for war with the Washington establishment.

Canada best prepare itself for a southerly political storm ahead and batten down its own political and economic hatches.

(Tim Kalinowski is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to http://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)

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