The partnership between Canada and the United States has flourished through shared geography, multi-layered economic ties, and committed border security cooperation among various other factors. However, in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic, it might be time for Canada and the US to re-examine their continental relations.
It is important to understand that even as the pandemic outbreak hit the two North American nations around the same time, its impact has been dramatically worse in the US than it has been in Canada.
Notably, Canada has not whole-heartedly encouraged US President Donald Trump’s futile response to the global health crisis. While Trump has handled the novel virus in a haphazard way, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has maintained a consistent stance considering the serious threat requiring a strong federal response. Canada managed to conduct more Coronavirus testing than its neighbouring country US. In mid-March, the Canadian testing rate was around five times higher than America’s. As early as in January and February, the country starting installing its infrastructure to conduct tests and contact tracing. With one of the best and well-funded public healthcare system, Canada has managed to control the impact of the virus so far. As the two countries strategize on reviving their economies, experts have argued that the biggest threat that Canada is facing now is importing infectious cases from the US.
Certainly, Canada has gained benefits from its commercial relationship with the US. However, the pandemic takes control of the world governments, Donald Trump’s “America First” policy can cause more damage to its neighbour that ever before. Therefore, in the longer haul, Canada will need to strengthen its national responses in order to reduce reliance on allies and partners. It is paramount for the Canadian government to boost investment in the national manufacturing of medical goods, concurrently ensuring regular supply of ammunition to its military.
Amid surging cases, when Washington is mulling over reopening the shared border with Canada, Trudeau is pressing for border restrictions to stay in place for another month. It is likely that a ban on non-essential travel will be extended to June 21. Amid the shifting geopolitical landscape, it is also crucial for Canada to expand dialogue with global institutions.
Significantly, ramifications of Coronavirus pandemic are changing perspectives of multilateralism in the world order. It will leave its footprints on the global market as well, such that Canada’s economy will possibly become navigated by the shifting world economy, and not just by the US market. Therefore, Canada must work on re-evaluating its foreign policies catering to the US.