Biden has been saying for months that as part of his climate change agenda, he would cancel the project. But the decisive pace of its executive regulation gave Canada no right to answer.
Even Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who supports the Keystone XL pipeline, tweeted that the Canadian executive order was a slap in the face.
“This is a realpolitical moment, it is a reality check that America is always upholding American interests, and it is high time we did the same in Canada,” said Goldy Hyder, President and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, in one Interview with CNN.
Biden’s actions are an opening salvo for America’s allies. a clear indication that although the new president is committed to restoring old ties, a shrewd, calculated self-interest rooted in the domestic agenda will guide his foreign policy.
Biden called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his first call to a foreign leader on Friday.
A government source informed of the appeal described it as “warm and friendly” and substantive. Both heads of state and government agreed that fighting the pandemic will be the top priority.
In private, both men reiterated their comments about the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. Trudeau reportedly told Biden that he was disappointed and that it would cost jobs on both sides of the border.
Biden said he was keeping an election promise.
“We’re relieved that tariffs aren’t being announced through tweets, but I don’t think American policy as such has changed that much, apart from these changes,” said Hyder.
During the phone conversation with Trudeau, Biden underscored his commitment to multilateralism.
The ad also stated that “the prime minister and president have agreed to consult closely to avoid measures that could constrain bilateral trade, supply chains and economic growth.”
But earlier on Friday, Trudeau was clearer and more realistic about Biden’s approach, especially when it comes to trading.
“It won’t always be perfect alignment with the United States, it is with every president, but in a situation where we are much more focused on values, focus and work that need to be done to create opportunities for all We are building a better future. I am very much looking forward to working with President Biden, “Trudeau said during a news conference on Friday.
The “Buy American” approach can test allied relationships
But those “values” will be retested next week as the Biden administration outlines its priorities for a “Buy American” approach to the economy that some in Canada believe will lead to more trade protectionism.
“Buy American will be the next big test,” said Hyder, adding that it will be a challenge for Canada and other allies.
“What is good for America is strong trade relationships, energy security, reliable partners and allies who can be there for you, right? That’s what we have to do,” said Hyder.
But making this case in Washington’s bipartisan atmosphere gets more complicated as the U.S. tries to recover from a debilitating pandemic.
Before and after his election, Biden promised to tighten the “Buy American” rules. This is yet another election promise that Canada could once again get out of the way and attack other allies as well.
Biden has proposed hundreds of billions of dollars for spending on infrastructure projects that will be made with mostly American raw materials and products.
The “Buy American” campaign could still get the legislative support it needs to make it enforceable. This, in turn, could make it indistinguishable from an “America First” doctrine.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, welcomed Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday by declaring in a speech that “after four long years Europe has a friend in the White House”.
At a press conference earlier this week, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, appeared to be taking a more pragmatic approach.
“We have our differences and they will not magically go away. America seems to have changed and how it is perceived in Europe and the rest of the world has changed too,” Michel said, adding that Europe has its interests would defend.
Canada will likely be the first ally to vigorously defend its interests no matter how warm the relationship between Trudeau and Biden is.