Canadians mark the calendar, pay attention, this matters

(2 minute read)

Just a month before the US election and three days after the first Clinton-Trump debate at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, NY, Canada will have its own debate about Donald Trump and whether he is good, not so good or bad for “We the North” (not the Raptors, all of us).

On Friday, September 30, 2016, 7 pm, the Munk Debate will move the motion: Be it resolved, Donald Trump can make America great again.

And guess who’s coming to Canada – no, not Trump. But two surrogates from the right and two opposed from the left. Speaking on behalf of Trump will be former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich and he will be joined by Laura Ingraham, a radio talk show host. Speaking against the resolution will be Robert Reich, who  served in three U.S. administrations, including as Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton. He will be joined by former two-term governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm. Ms. Granholm was re-elected as Michigan Governor with the largest number of votes ever cast for governor. Click here for debate details.

Why care?

Canada needs to care, a lot. We send around three-quarters of our export merchandise to the United States and merchandise trade is over 50% of the GDP, representing more than $400 billion.

[1]  That’s a lot of reasons to care. Especially considering what Donald Trump said about free-trade in his speech on Monday, August 08, 2016 to the Detroit Economic Club: “A total renegotiation … If we don’t get a better deal, we will walk away.”[2]

The New York Times said about the speech: “Donald Trump said he wanted to usher in “economic renewal,” but most of his proposals would hurt the economy, rack up huge deficits, accelerate climate change and leave the country isolated from the world.”

Oh Canada!

The Globe and Mail said:

“The Trump pledge, nevertheless, is a potential danger for Canada, which has enjoyed a preferential economic relationship with its most important trading partner since late in the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Canada and the United States exchange more than $2.4-billion in goods and services each day, and Canada is the top export destination for 35 U.S. states.” – The Globe and Mail [3]

The selected roster for this debate is questionable. Two ex-politicians, an ex-cabinet member and a talk-radio host. Except for Robert Reich, the other three don’t measure up to most of the previous luminaries and great thinkers who have participated in these preeminent debates (e.g., Steven Pinker, George Monbiot, Niall Ferguson, Henry Kissinger, Paul Krugman, Ian Bremmer, Alain de Botton and the late, great Christopher Hitchens). But if that’s the best deal Rudyard Griffiths, director and moderator of the Munk Debates, could make with Trump, the self-knighted, deal-making king, then we’ll have to settle for it. Just as we might have to settle for a different world under a Donald presidency.

The Munk Debates are a signature initiative of the Aurea Foundation, founded in 2006 by Peter and Melanie Munk to support Canadian institutions involved in the study and development of public policy. Peter Munk said, “Melanie and I are committed to broadening public knowledge, education, and informed discourse.”

Well done Munk Debates.

Let us hope it is an “informed discourse,” not an-all-to-typical, US political ad hominem.


Download Munk Debate press release.


  1. The Globe and Mail, Report on Business, p. B7, Aug. 06, 2016,
  2. The Globe and Mail, Aug. 08, 2016,
  3. Ibid

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