Judging by their Twitter feeds and commentary, many Canadians would love to detach from Donald Trump’s America and find other trading partners, allies, and, frankly, friends.
The impulse is understandable: a “national security” tariff imposed on allies who have bled together across continents and decades; a G7 prime minister consigned to a “special place in hell” while a nuclear-armed dictator known for starving his people received a warm embrace.
But geography remains destiny and America remains the colossus next door. Three-quarters of Canada’s exports go south. And we no longer just sell things to each other – we build them together. Our supply chains have grown intertwined to the point roughly half of Canada-U.S. trade moves within companies.
We defend North America jointly – from the skies to the seas and lakes. We grapple with the same technological threats and opportunities – from fake news to artificial intelligence.
While the Russia investigation and presidential tweetstorms make headlines, the new administration is quietly remaking the U.S. administrative state and uprooting long-standing policies that will shape Canada’s future, too. From energy and pharmaceutical regulations to standards for autonomous vehicles and a new space age, the gears of American government continue grind out daily decisions.
Tracking it all isn’t easy.
Unlike the concentrated power that comes with a Parliamentary majority in Ottawa, Washington is a Dr. Seuss-ian machine of many moving parts. In the closely divided Senate, every senator can be a kingmaker and a deal-destroyer; in the House of Representatives, a Republican majority has fractured into factions; and an alphabet soup of agencies and departments have their own agendas. And let’s not forget state capitals and their patchwork of laws on regulations on everything from emissions regulations in Sacramento to Buy American in Albany.
Canadian decision-makers in public and private sectors need to keep up. In addition to wrestling over NAFTA, the two countries have relaunched a regulatory cooperation process that will touch many sectors. Finance Minister Bill Morneau is studying how to respond to new U.S. tax reform designed to pull investment south. The Trudeau government is reviewing technology and cultural policies to respond to the rise of U.S. tech companies. Marijuana legalization will open up a variety of cross-border concerns for decision-makers in law enforcement, health care, and financial services.
I covered the depth and breadth of our interconnectedness during a decade as the Washington correspondent for Maclean’s magazine and a producer of television documentaries on cross-border issues.
Along the way I witnessed a disturbing trend: after years of industry cutbacks, the ranks of Canadian reporters in Washington have been gradually depleted. The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star are now the only two Canadian newspapers with a full-time reporter in Washington.
This is a civic challenge — potentially a crisis — that demands an innovative solution.
It’s time for a new approach. What if Canadian journalists joined forces with the largest politics and policy newsroom in Washington, DC in helping cover policy developments for Canadian audiences? What if a team of experienced Canadian reporters teamed up with 200 of Washington’s most expert policy journalists, whose sourcing networks reach across Capitol Hill and the White House, and deeply into federal agencies and regulatory bodies? What if they could add to that a network of reporters in state capitals?
At POLITICO, we believe this approach would create a must-have source of intelligence for Canadian decision-makers in government and industry. That’s why this September we will introduce POLITICO Pro Canada, a cross-border policy intelligence service for readers with a stake in the Canada-US relationship.
We are thrilled that Alexander Panetta, the longtime indispensable Washington correspondent for The Canadian Press, and a familiar face to Canadian TV audiences, has agreed to be the editor. He will lead a team working with POLITICO’s specialist journalists in trade, energy, financial services, agriculture, defense, immigration, technology, cyber-security and other areas, to produce a report tailored to Canadians who need daily intelligence about what is happening each day in Washington and the state capitals—and what it means for Canada.
We believe this kind of reporting, context, and analysis would be a valuable asset for any country with a large and complex economic relationship with the U.S., but Alex and I are passionate about creating it for Canada first.
We share a conviction that this project matters. For a country joined at the hip economically to the U.S., so connected culturally to it, so deeply affected by the tosses and turns of Pierre Trudeau’s metaphorical elephant, we believe it’s inexcusable that Canada would lack the best available policy intelligence on its indispensable neighbor at a moment of high-stakes uncertainty and risk.
We intend to change that with politicopro.com/Canada.
Luiza Ch. Savage is POLITICO’s editorial director for cross-platform content and executive director for Canada. Before joining POLITICO in 2015, she spent a decade as the Washington bureau chief for Canada’s national news magazine, Maclean’s, where she covered Canada-US relations and U.S. politics for a Canadian audience, and was a frequent commentator on Canadian TV and radio. She wrote and produced two television documentaries for Canada’s public affairs channel, CPAC-TV, focused on cross-border issues: Pipeline Politics, the story of the Keystone XL pipeline controversy, and The Billionaire and the Bridge, the battle over building the Gordie Howe International Bridge. Previously, has been a reporter for the New York Sun, the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen. She grew up in Calgary and Ottawa. She holds an Economics degree from Harvard University and master’s degree from Yale Law School where she was a Knight Foundation Journalism Fellow.