The dispute between Canada and Trump's America has finally reached a climax.
Trump has long promised an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the pact that commits Canada, the United States, and Mexico to open trade principles and economic cooperation.
This past week, the bombastic president made good on his promise.
By negotiating a separate trade agreement with Mexico to the exclusion of Canada, the Trump administration has effectively killed NAFTA, at least as a tenable option in the public imagination.
The administration then established an abrupt deadline for Canada to agree to a replacement agreement. When the Canadian minister of foreign affairs refused to capitulate to Trump's harsh demands, which include ending Canadian dairy supply management, negotiations reached a dramatic conclusion.
After refusing to compromise with Canada, Trump lashed out on Twitter, accusing Canada of "decades of abuse."
There is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal. If we don’t make a fair deal for the U.S. after decades of abuse, Canada will be out. Congress should not interfere w/ these negotiations or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2018
Indeed, this has been Trump's strategy for months: to belittle, berate, and badger Canada in order to coerce it into a disadvantageous deal. Now with the very tenets of North American economic cooperation at stake, we have reached a critical moment.
Everything is up to the Trudeau government. The prime minister and his associates could either submit to Trump's pressure or demonstrate Canada's independence, even to the detriment of the Canadian economy.
But one distinct possibility looms perhaps most forbodingly: a Trudeau visit to Washington.
If the prime minister is forced to go to Trump himself in a desperate effort to negotiate on Canada's behalf, he will surrender not only the country's economic independence, but also its international reputation.
Trudeau risks casting Canada as an economic and political puppet of the United States and, worse, Trump himself.
Such a move would be too much of a political risk, according to Global News. It would also undermine the power of the foreign minister and the Liberal government more broadly.
But anything is possible. Canada is entering a period of great uncertainty. And for the first time, the country is completely alone in the world.