Trudeau’s Challenge: Managing Trump and Domestic Politics

President Trump, left, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada at the Group of 7 summit meeing in Quebec last week.

OTTAWA — The security fences are coming down. And the world leaders have jetted off.

But for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, the troubles have just begun.

After the disastrous finale of the Group of 7 summit meeting, Mr. Trudeau is now caught in a tight spot between the unpredictable President Trump and the powerful Canadian dairy industry, the current target of Mr. Trump’s escalating trade threats. The prime minister’s challenge is how to manage both the most important Canadian ally and his own domestic politics.

“Trudeau is in a very difficult place because the G-7 summit signals the approach the Trudeau government took to deal with the Trump administration has failed,” said Wesley Wark, a professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa. “The charm offensive has produced little of what the prime minister hoped.”

Even before Mr. Trump came to power, Mr. Trudeau, and his closest aides and cabinet members rushed to connect with the new president and his advisers. And despite Mr. Trump’s unpopularity in Canada, Mr. Trudeau scrupulously avoided criticizing the president.

Mr. Trump rewarded the effort with his hard-line positions on reworking the North American Free Trade Agreement, duties on Canadian lumber, steel and aluminum, and insistence that national security concerns justified those measures — to Canadians, an insulting position to take.

Now Mr. Trump is challenging Canada’s longtime dairy system, which uses high tariffs to largely exclude imports. He is also angry about exports from the Canadian automotive industry, the backbone of the country’s manufacturing.

The prospect of a full-on trade war is an alarming proposition; trade with the United States is the economic lifeblood of Canada. But Canadian political, and economic, realities also dictate that Mr. Trudeau cannot give in to the president’s trade demands.

Oddly, though, Mr. Trump’s attacks — and especially his extraordinarily personal vitriol about Mr. Trudeau over Twitter as he departed the Group of 7 talks — may have revitalized the prime minister’s political career even as his popularity in polls was falling and questions about his leadership growing.

Cows at the Skyline dairy farm near Grunthal, Manitoba, in March. President Trump has criticized Canada’s protection of its dairy industry.

In an exceptional step, Canada’s House of Commons set aside partisanship to unanimously pass a motion on Monday from the opposition New Democratic Party that…

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