John Ibbitson lists the ways a Trump presidency would be bad for Canada, from eroding the NATO alliance to causing more smog in Toronto.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Social studies, current events, history

Key Question to Explore:

  • What are some ways in which a Trump presidency could be bad for Canada?

New Terminology:

Baleful, NATO, NORAD, repudiate, unilateral, tariffs, trade war, nativist

Materials Needed:

Globe article

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

The world has never seen an American election campaign such as the one unfolding this fall. Both candidates are considered unfavourably by the largest percentage in American history, yet one of them will become president in November. If it is Mr. Trump, the ramifications for Canada are significant and worthy of a short lesson in which students examine and discuss some of his platform claims.

This lesson involves the whole class in reading and discussing the Ibbitson article. Students will then write a paragraph or two on their overall impression of Mr. Trump’s candidacy and the possible effects of his presidency on Canada.

Action (lesson plan and task):

NOTE: When you introduce the subject of Mr. Trump, you will need to exercise some discretion as recent news reports contain subject matter that you may find inappropriate for classroom discussion.

First, ensure students know that there are two candidates for president of the United States, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It is generally agreed that were Ms. Clinton to win, Canada’s relationship with the United States would likely continue much as it has under the Obama administration. However, Mr. Trump has made a number of promises that could and would affect Canada’s relationship with the United States.

Provide students with the article and read the opening section to them to introduce the subject. Then have student volunteers read each section and, after each, engage them in a short discussion about it. The following questions/prompts can help you focus the discussion, answers for your benefit in parentheses:

Re: NORAD in the cross hairs:

    • What is NORAD? What is NATO and what is the primary agreement among nation members? (North American Aerospace Defence Command; North Atlantic Treaty Organization; member states agree to come to the defence of any fellow member)
    • What is meant by a “more robust contribution” and how does this affect Canada? (Canada would have to pay more for its membership in NORAD)

Re: Giving up on fighting climate change:

    • How do you feel about Mr. Trump’s plans regarding climate change?

Re: Smog over Toronto:

    • How would Mr. Trump’s plans for the coal industry affect the quality of the air over Toronto? (If coal-fired electricity plants are re-started in the eastern USA, their emissions would tend to blow north and over southwestern Ontario)

Re: An end to Canada’s open door:

    • Why would Canada likely “welcome more American immigrants than at any time since the draft dodgers fled the Vietnam War?” (Canadian officials report that a large number of Americans are contacting them regarding possibly moving to Canada if Mr. Trump is elected. During the Vietnam War—1964-1974—thousands of American men avoided mandatory induction into the US military by fleeing to Canada)

Re: And end to Five Eyes:

    • Do you think the current threat of terrorism is sufficient reason for suspending constitutional rights regarding privacy and due process of law? (Our laws prohibit citizens from being spied on by their own government and detained merely because they are suspected of breaking a law)

Re: The Canadian-American trade war:

    • What is a trade war? (a situation in which countries try to damage each other’s trade, typically by the imposition of tariffs or quota restrictions)

Re: The deepest chill in Canada-U.S. relations since the War of 1812:

    • What does Mr. Ibbitson mean when he says Mr. Trudeau is the antithesis of Donald Trump? How serious would the lack of a good relationship between the leaders of the two countries be, in your opinion?

Next, ask students to write a paragraph or two for homework on how they feel about Mr. Trump generally, and who they would like to see win the presidency and why.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Students discuss the article with the class.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

  • Students can list and describe some of the possible negative outcomes for Canada if Donald Trump is elected president.

Confirming Activity:

  • Students report on the American election, who won and how they feel about the outcome.