EDITORIAL: The gorilla in the room

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There have been few occasions in Canadian history where, on the eve of a federal election, political turmoil in the U.S. has been so disturbing.

As Canadians prepare to go to the polls, Americans are discussing the possible impeachment of their president, while the same president continues tweeting messages that suggest a shocking absence of public decorum as well as an impervious attitude to the U.S. Constitution.

Wherever he has gone, whether in Manhattan’s business circles, real estate development, celebrity TV or the Oval Office, Donald Trump has managed to suck the oxygen out of any space he inhabits. Almost always it’s been an opportunity for self-promotion and in some cases self-preservation. It’s always been about him.

How else can one explain the president’s decision (via a tweet, of course) that the U.S. military pull out of Syria? The decision runs counter to the Americans’ continued involvement in the Middle East since Sept. 11, 2001, and has left its long-suffering allies, the Kurdish people, exposed to attacks from nearby Turkey, as well as the possible resurgence of ISIS forces.


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Most military experts agree that Trump’s decision is bone-headed, and even political allies within the Republicans are shocked. The Kurds have been allies with the U.S. for the past 18 years, and were shoulder-to-shoulder with American interests during the Gulf War almost 30 years ago.

During the 20th century, Americans and their presidents built a sterling reputation for standing fast with their allies, offering moral, financial and military support.

But that reputation has been brought to ruin under Trump. He is determined to isolate the U.S. from the rest of the world at a time when isolation is exactly what the world doesn’t need. His decision to pull troops out of Syria follows a long-standing vow to bring Americans home from foreign conflicts, but comes during a moment when there is talk of impeachment. This all about Trump’s self-preservation, and to hell with the Kurds and other allies.

Canadians have already been negatively impacted by Trump’s actions. An estimated 55,000 people have illegally entered Canada through the Quebec’s border since 2017 because of the president’s anti-immigration stance.

Trump pressed to have NAFTA re-opened. Canada was relieved to not have been hit too hard, but the negotiations became yet another bragging point for Trump.

The president has not proved to be a reliable friend to Canada, and his actions, even now, may trump any agenda the Canadian government is compelled to follow after Oct. 21.

– Peter Epp

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