Concern is growing among Alberta politicians and political experts, as they wonder of U.S. President Donald Trump’s attack on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could adversely impact the provincial economy.
Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says her government is trying to be proactive by lobbying the U.S. administration on issues like soft wood lumber.
The U.S. president announced last week significant tariffs of up to 24 per cent on imports of Canadian softwood lumber, saying “Canada has treated us very unfairly.”
“It’s really important to us as a province that we keep our forestry industry strong and keep those jobs, and that’s why we have been working very closely with the federal government and the Americans on finding a way forward on soft wood lumber,” Phillips said Saturday.
“This is going to be a tough one.”
Trump signed his 31st and 32nd executive orders Saturday — the most signed by any president in their first 100 days in over 70 years.
Both orders are directing the commerce department and the U.S. trade representative to conduct a study of U.S. trade agreements including NAFTA.
Some of the new president’s executive orders could be beneficial to Alberta, especially the energy industry.
The president gave the green light to the Keystone XL pipeline earlier this year. When it’s built, the project will allow more Alberta bitumen to flow into the U.S. Midwest and Gulf ports, providing increased access to higher world oil prices in international markets.
But some Albertans say they are also concerned about Trump’s values and agenda on social issues.
“I think he’s come across as intolerant, and frankly, he’s sloppy, he doesn’t have the people around him and he’s not making the right decisions,” said David Khan, who is running for the leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party.
“He is just pure bluster and his Muslim ban was an example of that — it was an abject failure, it didn’t pass first muster in the courts,” Khan said.
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One political analyst suggests Trump’s first 100 days have been unpredictable at best, and speculates there could be more uncertainty ahead.
“When I wake up in the morning I see what he has tweeted at 5 a.m., cause that sets the agenda. Mount Royal University professor Duane Bratt said. “It’s been a rocky start and I think it’s going to continue to be rocky for him.”
“Fundamentally he and his advisers don’t know what they are doing… in my opinion.”
President Trump still has over 1,300 days in the Oval Office until the next presidential election in November 2020.
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