Trump's tweets on Canada? All about immigration, trade and Justin Trudeau

Published Nov. 13, 2018 12:04 p.m. ET
Updated Nov. 14, 2018 10:29 a.m. ET

What does U.S. President Donald Trump think about Canada?

We sifted through his Twitter feed looking for clues. It turns out that, since taking office nearly two years ago, Trump’s mentions of Canada mostly revolve around three topics: trade, immigration and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 


If there’s one Canadian policy that Trump seems to admire, it’s our approach to immigration. Two-thirds of Canadian immigrants are admitted under economic streams that prioritize people with education and job offers. That’s in contrast to the U.S., where two-thirds of immigrants are based on family ties, an approach Trump calls “chain migration.” 

Trump has praised Canada’s system, which he calls “merit-based,” as far back as 2011.

He did it again early in his presidency, on March 3, 2017, when he recommended the book “Green Card Warrior.” Trump wrote that “the merit-based system is the way to go. Canada Australia! @foxandfriends.”

Less than a month later, Trump again highlighted Canadian immigration. “Mexico & Canada have tough immigration laws whereas ours are an Obama joke. ACT CONGRESS,” Trump wrote.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with U.S. President Donald Trump at the G7 leaders summit in La Malbaie, Que., on, June 8, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang


Trump mostly ignored Trudeau for his first full year in office, but he did call the prime minister his “new found friend” on Canada Day that year. “Happy Canada Day to all of the great people of Canada and to your Prime Minister and my new found friend @JustinTrudeau. #Canada150,” he wrote on July 1, 2017.

The president didn’t mention Trudeau again until more than eight months later, at which time NAFTA negotiations were underway. On March 15, 2018, Trump called Trudeau a “very good guy” but added that Trudeau “doesn’t like saying that Canada has a Surplus vs. the U.S.(negotiation)...”

Trump appeared to turn on Trudeau at the G7 summit in June. On the 7th, he tweeted that Trudeau was being “indignant.” Two days later, he called Trudeau “so meek and mild” and “very dishonest and weak.”

On June 9, he wrote: “Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal. According to a Canada release they make almost 100 Billion Dollars in Trade with U.S. (guess they were bragging and got caught!). Minimum is 17B. Tax Dairy from us at 270%. Then Justin acts hurt when called out!”


The first Trump tweets about trade with Canada date back to 2011 and 2012, when he tweeted several times about the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry Alberta crude to refineries in Texas.

“@BarackObama won’t approve the Keystone Pipeline so Canada is now looking to sell their oil to China,” he wrote on Jan. 17, 2012.

Overturning Obama’s rejection of Keystone ended up being one of Trump’s first acts as president. The fate of the project remains unclear after a U.S. federal judge ordered a halt to construction last week.

Trump didn’t say much about trade with Canada again until March 3, 2017, when he wrote: “Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult. We will not stand for this. Watch!”

He went mostly silent for another year, until March when he signalled his intention to put tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada.

On March 5, three days before he signed an executive order authorizing the tariffs, he wrote: “We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA which is under renegotiation right now has been a bad deal for U.S.A. Massive relocation of companies &; jobs. Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed.”

A trickle of tweets about trade in the spring turned into a flood by June, with more than a dozen missives sent around the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Que., which was June 7-9.




By July, the tweet storm had passed.

Trump only tweeted about trade with Canada a handful of times between Canada Day and the announcement of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement at the end of September.

On Oct. 2, he touted “great reviews on the USMCA,” adding “Mexico and Canada will be wonderful partners in Trade (and more) long into the future.”

After that, Trump appeared to move on.

There hasn’t been a single tweet mentioning Canada since Oct. 3, when he wrote:

“Mexico Canada and the United States are a great partnership and will be a very formidable trading force. We will now because of the USMCA work very well together. Great Spirit!”