VICTORIA LAWYER Kirk Karaszkiewicz didn’t know Donald Trump when they were in school together. Both graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, but they didn’t cross paths.
Philadelphia-raised Karaszkiewicz does have a telling story from another Penn grad, though. This friend ended up in New York real estate, and knew the future president from that orbit. “He had occasion to do deals with Trump and to interact with Trump.”
Karaszkiewicz’s buddy and Trump would run into each other at social events. Trump was friendly enough — until he wasn’t. As soon as the New Yorker was no longer of use to Trump, was used up as a deal-making commodity, he might as well have been dead. It was like turning off a switch. “Trump treated him as though he were part of the wallpaper,” Karaszkiewicz said Monday.
Which A) shouldn’t surprise us, seeing all that we know about the Narcissist-in-Chief and B) should serve as a reminder to Canadians, now that we are in the crosshairs.
It always is. Trump will do what’s best for Trump, not what’s best for the United States. So never mind the ins and outs of steel exports, or the auto pact, or the notion that the strongest economy in the world is about to crash down under the unbearable weight of Canadian milk quotas. Trump isn’t interested in what’s true or what’s fair, he’s just pandering to the isolationists and xenophobes for his own benefit.
The question is: What do we do about it?
The temptation is to get mad and A) replace the Captain Cook statue in the Inner Harbour with one of Robert De Niro, God bless ’im, B) cut off all exports of orange hair dye, and C) pray that if the Washington Capitals go to the White House for their presidential grip-and-grin, it ends with tough guy Tom Wilson pulling Trump’s jacket over his head like a hockey sweater and feeding him left hands (just kidding, Wilson throws right).
No, says Pat Carney, Canada should stay out of the gutter. Don’t respond to the personal attacks. Keep cool.
Saturna Island’s Carney, who was Canada’s international trade minister when the first Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. was negotiated by the Mulroney Progressive Conservatives three decades ago, thinks Justin Trudeau and his team have made all the right moves in response to Trump’s Twitter tantrums.
“I think the Canadian response was brilliant,” she said Monday. “His advisers stuck to the principle of ‘do not engage, do not escalate.’”
Trudeau was smart to take the schoolyard-squabble personal element out of the equation by putting Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on camera to state the Canadian case. “He didn’t give Trump anything to push back at,” Carney said. “He stated his position, but he took himself out of the line of fire.”
There’s no point in rising to the bait, Carney says. “The only thing you can do is stay the course.” Both countries have excellent negotiators, people in the public service who know their files inside-out. Trust them.
It helps that — despite Trump’s histrionics and the manufactured outrage of his surrogate Peter “Special Place In Hell” Navarro, who claimed Trudeau had stabbed the U.S. in the back — the message from the Canadian team has been consistent from day one. Canada won’t be pushed around and will respond to U.S. tariffs with tariffs of its own.
Carney didn’t say so, but it also helps that Trudeau’s political foes have backed him up. Where there were Americans so rabidly partisan that they would rather burn America to the ground than see Barack Obama succeed, Trudeau’s opponents have put Canada first. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer speaks of a “united front.” Doug Ford said he stands “shoulder to shoulder” with Trudeau. Stephen Harper, on Fox News to promote a new book, talked about Trump’s “obsession with trade relations with Canada” while Alberta’s Jason Kenney backed the prime minister to the hilt despite the fact that praising a Trudeau is a hanging offence in Wild Rose Country.
Carney says Canadians have to understand how Americans feel, though.
“Canadians don’t appreciate how hunkered down the Americans are,” she says. “They are in a bunker. They feel the whole world is attacking them.” ISIS, North Korea, Europe, China, whoever. “They have had a siege mentality since 9/11.”
That’s the fire being fed by Trump, with Canada the fuel.
Jack Knox is a born-and-raised Kamloopsian who once worked at the Kamloops Daily News. He is now a columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist. Since joining the Times Colonist in 1988, Jack has worked as a copy editor, city editor, editorial writer and editorial page editor. Prior to that he was an editor and reporter at newspapers in Campbell River, Regina and Kamloops. He won the Jack Webster Foundation’s City Mike Award for Commentator of the Year in 2015.