It has been just under two weeks since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, and his administration has been extremely busy. From signing numerous controversial executive orders, to nominating a Supreme Court justice, it has certainly been a newsworthy two weeks.
Canada is keeping a close eye on what our neighbours to the south are doing, and many are wondering what the future holds as the new Trump administration begins to make its mark.
In this week’s Insight, we explore two significant updates, and take a look at what can be expected in the weeks and months to come.
1. The TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline Extension
On January 24, United States President Trump signed executive orders to advance construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,897 km pipeline running from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. Trump’s decision was a move heavily criticized by Indigenous communities and climate change activists alike, across both Canada and the United States.
Barack Obama’s administration previously blocked both pipeline projects, however, Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to expand energy infrastructure and create jobs – a promise he followed through on with the signing of the order last week.
According to Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, the Keystone XL project would mean 4,500 jobs for Canada, adding that all approvals are in place on the Canadian side for the pipeline. Canadians however, remain divided on whether the pipeline will result in any significant job creation or energy supply, however, Trudeau has said that the pipeline extension would help Canada balance energy needs with environmental commitments.
Ground won’t be broken anytime soon, however. Trump has signaled that there are conditions he wants met, and the order is subject to agreement renegotiations. Hundreds of protestors gathered outside the White House on January 25 for an anti-pipeline rally, hinting that opposition is substantial, and there may be much more resistance from affected communities in the months to come.
2. The Immigration Ban
On January 27, Trump issued an executive order temporarily blocking entry by citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including green card holders. These countries include Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. The ban was initially slated to last for 90 days, however, on January 28, the federal court for the Eastern District of New York issued an emergency stay, which temporarily blocked this ban. A court date has been set for February, where judges will be asked to rule whether the measures are lawful.
According to the The Globe and Mail:
- Government officials with diplomatic credentials aren’t affected by the ban
- Ottawa has confirmed that Canadian permanent residents are also exempt
- According to Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, permanent residents of Canada will be able to enter the US, provided they have a valid Canadian permanent resident card and a passport from one of the seven affected countries
Several Canadian politicians and refugee advocates have urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to lift the private refugee limit in the wake of these US restrictions. The government has capped new applications for private sponsorship of Syrian and Iraqi refugees at 1,000 – a limit which many say is too low, and that Trudeau’s recent words of welcome to refugees should be matched with actions.
Following news of the ban, Canada has also confirmed that it will not increase its refugee target in 2017, which is set to accommodate 40,000 refugees.