Justin Trudeau and What Canada’s New Government Might Mean for U.S. Relations

Justin Trudeau and What Canada’s New Government Might Mean for U.S. Relations

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Liberal leader Justin Trudeau/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

By Jacob Poushter, Pew Research

Canada’s Liberal Party captured a majority of seats in Monday’s federal election, winning enough votes to form a new government. Justin Trudeau, son of a former Liberal leader, will be the first member of his party to serve as prime minister since 2006.

So, what does this mean for the U.S.’s relationship with its northern-border ally? Canada’s Liberal Party is often classified as centrist, and a recent Pew Research Center survey finds that they indeed represent the middle path on Canadian views toward the U.S. But on some key issues, like the Keystone XL pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), supporters of Canada’s Liberal Party are less supportive than their Conservative Party predecessors.

On the Keystone XL pipeline, a new Liberal-run government might be less inclined to push the U.S. to approve the stalled project. While Trudeau has pledged his support for the pipeline, which would deliver oil from the Alberta oil sands region to U.S. refineries, overall support for the venture in Canada is tepid.

In Pew’s most recent survey, Canadians are split: 42 percent favor building the pipeline, while 48 percent are against it. Among Liberal supporters, 45 percent approve of the pipeline, with a nearly identical 46 percent opposed. Conservative Party backers are much more enthused by the project (72 percent support it), while backers of the left-leaning, social-democrat New Democratic Party (22 percent) are least supportive.

In the U.S., there’s more public support for the Keystone pipeline, but it’s largely split along party lines. According to a November 2014 Pew Research survey, 59 percent of Americans support building the pipeline. But there’s greater support among Republicans (83 percent) than Democrats (43 percent).

TPP, a new trade agreement that seeks to reduce tariffs between the U.S., Canada and 10 other Asia-Pacific nations, has garnered public support in both Canada and the U.S. In Canada, six-in-ten Liberal supporters say TPP is a good thing for Canada, and seven-in-ten say this among the country’s Conservatives. Among NDP supporters, however, only 42 percent think the massive trade deal is a boon for Canada.

In the U.S., 49 percent support the trade deal. In Canada, those who back the more liberal Democratic Party are more supportive of the pact (51 percent say it is a good thing for the U.S.) than are those with the more conservative Republican Party (43 percent).

Canada’s election isn’t likely to dramatically affect overall sentiment towards the U.S. Canadians continue to have warm feelings toward Americans – 68 percent said as much in our spring poll. And while Liberal Party supporters (71 percent positive view of the U.S.) are not as pro-American as Conservatives (84 percent), on balance the sentiment is favorable and mutual. According to a 2013 survey, 81 percent of Americans hold a positive view of Canada.

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