Jane Taber is a veteran print and broadcast political journalist, who covered Parliament Hill for more than 20 years. The majority of her career was spent with Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. She recently joined NATIONAL Public Relations in Toronto as Vice President Public Affairs. I asked her about how the US presidential election is playing out north of the border.

  1. As America’s closest ally, what have Canadians been most afraid and horrified by during this U.S. election? 

There is a well-known saying in Canada that perfectly describes the relationship with the United States – “When America sneezes, Canada catches a cold.”

Canada lives in the shadow of the most powerful country in the world. While it is mostly a blessing, it can also be a curse as the U.S. is Canada’s largest trading partner. When the American economy is affected so is Canada’s

Enter Donald Trump. The billionaire Republican presidential candidate is an unknown, behaving erratically and seemingly without any filters.

There is fear here that a Trump presidency will be disastrous for Canada’s economy. Canadians pride themselves as free traders – and Mr. Trump’s aggressive criticism of NAFTA as the “worst trade deal maybe every signed, anywhere” and his vow to rip it up has Canadians concerned.

Canada’s economy has always seemed to fare better when the Democrats are in office across the border.

But there is more to this than unease over trade deals and having an anti-free trader in the Oval Office.

The nastiness and negative tone of the American election, especially coming from Mr. Trump and the Republican camp, has unsettled some Canadians.

The misogyny of Donald Trump, his views on immigrants, Muslims and other minority groups, his attacks on the media, military heroes, including Senator John McCain, a Republican, a former Presidential candidate and a war hero, is so disturbing to Canadians.

This view of the world from an American poised to become President is certainly the perception of America that Canadians have grown up with. Canadians have always been proud of the close relationship they have with the United States – and are left wondering now if this relationship will be broken by a Donald Trump presidency.

2. Donald Trump’s extreme border control policies usually centre on Mexico. But Canada would also be affected. How is such a prospect being viewed by Canadians? 

It is being view with concern. Most Canadians live within 100 miles of the U.S. border, and cross-border shopping, trade with the U.S. and an ease of traveling back and forth is part of being Canadian. After 9/11 the borders were tightened considerably, and now a passport is required for entry into the U.S. Any further tightening, or increase in militarization would be considered harmful to the country’s relationship with the U.S. both economically, and psychologically.

3. Trump has been especially vitriolic when it comes to Syrian refugees, and this proposals have found surprising support among US voters. How does this differ from sentiment in Canada?

One of the first acts of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new government was to fulfil a campaign promise to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015. Although that deadline was missed by several months, the sentiment was there. Canada is and has always considered itself a welcoming country, and the Trudeau government recognizes that. As well, Canada as a smaller country recognizes the importance and value, both economically and socially, that new Canadians bring with them.

4. Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is extremely progressive on issues such as climate change and feminism. What direct conflicts with the Canada’s closest neighbour do you foresee if Trump wins the presidency? 

Many! Donald Trump says he will cancel the Paris climate agreement, which Canada has signed on to. Canada has worked with the U.S. on energy and climate policies. All that could be thrown into jeopardy if Mr. Trump is elected President.

And Canada’s energy and environmental policies are not the only issues to be concerned about during a Trump presidency. Last year, Prime Minister Trudeau boldly declared he was a “feminist.” He has put his words to actions, naming women to half of the positions in his cabinet. Mr. Trump’s misogynistic outbursts during the campaign show that he and Mr. Trudeau may not be simpatico. This is troubling.

Prime Minister Trudeau has demonstrated his ability to hear and consider all sides in an argument or debate. That seems at odds with the way in which Mr. Trump will lead.

What Canadians expect from their Prime Minister is a healthy personal relationship with the American President so that in the event of a crisis, he or she can pick up the phone and speak frankly and deliberately with the American leader. Life seems to run more smoothly in Canada if the Prime Minister gets along with the U.S. President.

It’s hard to see Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump developing a close personal friendship in the same way that he did with Barack Obama.

5. Finally, several celebrities have said if Trump wins they will move to Canada, while websites have sprung up offering Americans advice on how to do this. Do you have any words of advice or caution for Americans hoping to escape President Trump?

Let me repeat – Canada is a welcoming country, and believes that newcomers add value to the culture and makeup of society here. Come. Come before the border is shut tight. Trump refugees would be welcomed with open arms.