Transcript: Canada-U.S. Relations | Nov 19, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, blue shirt, and striped blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Our American cousins again? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, THE LONGEST UNDEFENDED BORDER IN THE WORLD IS OSTENSIBLY CLOSED. THAT'S OF COURSE BECAUSE OF COVID-19. BUT THE LAST FEW YEARS HAVE SEEN OTHER DISRUPTIONS IN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE U.S. AND CANADA. AND FOR GREAT LAKES PROVINCES AND STATES, THAT'S NOT GENERALLY THE PREFERRED STATE OF AFFAIRS. WITH US TO REFLECT ON THAT AND WHAT WE NEED TO CONSIDER AS A NEW AMERICAN PRESIDENT PREPARES FOR OFFICE, LET'S WELCOME: JUAN ALSACE. HE WAS U.S. CONSUL GENERAL IN TORONTO UNDER BOTH PRESIDENTS OBAMA AND TRUMP. HE'S CURRENTLY A CONSULTANT AT StrategyCorp, AND HE JOINS US NOW FROM MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, WHERE THE SIGNAL IS A LITTLE ROUGH.

Juan is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair. He's wearing a black suit, blue shirt and golden tie.

Steve continues UNFORTUNATELY, MR. CONSUL GENERAL, BUT WE WILL MAKE DO THE BEST WE CAN AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO A STIMULATING CONVERSATION. HOW ARE YOU DOING TONIGHT?

The caption changes to "Juan Alsace. Former U.S. Consul General to Toronto."
Then, it changes again to "Obama, Ontario, and the U.S.A."

Juan says GREAT. THANKS VERY MUCH FOR HAVING ME, STEVE. I REALLY APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK WITH YOU.

Steve says NOT AT ALL. BEFORE WE DIVE INTO THE ISSUES HERE WE SHOULD I THINK GET A LITTLE BACKGROUND ABOUT YOU ON THE RECORD HERE, BECAUSE YOU LIVED IN CANADA ONCE UPON A TIME, DID YOU NOT?

The caption changes to "Juan Alsace. Strategycorp."

Juan says I DID. ACTUALLY, I WAS IN THE SEMINARY IN NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO, STUDYING FOR THE PRIESTHOOD WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER. SO I HAVE A LONG HISTORY WITH CANADA AND A LOT OF GOOD FRIENDS WHO I STILL MAINTAIN CONTACT WITH FROM HIGH SCHOOL DAYS.

Steve says WHEN YOU SAW WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CANADIAN-AMERICAN RELATIONSHIP OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, DID YOU HAVE SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT GETTING OUT OF THE SEMINARY?

Juan laughs and says NO, NOT AT ALL. ACTUALLY, IT TURNS OUT, WHEN I GOT UP TO MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY, WHICH WAS THE NEXT STEP, I MET MY WIFE OF 40 YEARS NOW AND, NO, NO REGRETS ABOUT LEAVING THE SEMINARY.

Steve says GOOD. SO THE STORY HAS A HAPPY ENDING. HOW DID YOU GET THE CONSUL GENERAL GIG IN 2015?

Juan says I'M A FOREIGN SERVICE OPERATOR AND MY LAST POSTING WAS TORONTO AND ONE OF THE THINGS I TALKED TO MY BOSSES ABOUT WAS BECAUSE OF THAT FAMILIARITY I HAD WITH CANADA, BECAUSE I GREW UP IN BUFFALO, NEW YORK, IT MADE SENSE FOR ME TO GO THERE BECAUSE I KNEW SOME OF THE ISSUES AND THE PEOPLE AND I THOUGHT I COULD CONTRIBUTE SOMETHING AS CONSUL GENERAL IN TORONTO BECAUSE OF THOSE CLOSE TIES.

Steve says WHEN YOU GOT THE APPOINTMENT IN 2015, HOW WOULD YOU HAVE CHARACTERIZED THE STATE OF RELATIONS BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES?

Juan says YOU KNOW, I GOT UP THERE AUGUST OF 2015, JUST AS YOU WERE ENTERING INTO YOUR ELECTION. I REMEMBER THINKING, BEING BEMUSED BY THE FACT THAT CANADIANS WERE CONCERNED THIS WAS A TEN-WEEK ELECTION. YOU HAD PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU WINNING A SURPRISINGLY RESOUNDING VICTORY. YOU HAD AN IDEOLOGICAL CONVERGENCE OF WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE UNITED STATES AND WHAT WAS GOING ON IN CANADA. THE PRIME MINISTER WAS DOWN IN THE WHITE HOUSE VERY SHORTLY AFTER THE ELECTION. YOU HAD A BIT OF A BROMANCE. AND SO YOU SAW THAT THERE WAS ISSUES THAT WE COULD WORK ON TOGETHER, CERTAINLY AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL, YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT TTP, IRAN, TRADE. AT THE LOCAL LEVEL WHAT IMPACTED ME, WE HAD THAT IDEOLOGICAL CONVERGENCE BECAUSE I HAD A SOLID WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH PREMIER WYNNE RIGHT OFF THE BAT SO WE WERE ABLE TO START WORKING ON ISSUES THAT ARE OF COMMON CONCERN IN ONTARIO AND THE NATIONAL SCENARIO WAS SOLID, WE PUT TOGETHER A PLAN TO WORK WITH THE NEW GOVERNMENT AND WE WERE OFF TO THE RACES.

Steve says COULD YOU AMPLIFY A BIT ON WHAT THOSE PROVINCIAL, QUOTE, AMERICAN ISSUES WOULD HAVE BEEN? I UNDERSTAND THE BIGGER PICTURE NATIONALLY. WHAT ABOUT BETWEEN ONTARIO AND BORDER STATES, FOR EXAMPLE? WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING ON?

The caption changes to "Juan Alsace, @juanalsace."

Juan says WELL, YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY THE GREAT LAKES IS HUGE, I MEAN BOTH AS AN ECONOMIC ENGINE FOR BOTH OF OUR COUNTRIES BUT ALSO BECAUSE OF THE ISSUES [indiscernible]. SOMETIMES WE TAKE ON A PET ISSUE AND I DECIDED TO FOCUS ON THE WATER RELATIONSHIP. PART OF IT HAD TO DO WITH, BECAUSE AS A DIPLOMAT, I UNDERSTOOD FROM PAST EXPERIENCE THAT WATER ACTUALLY TENDS TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER. SO I THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT WE COULD DO, AND SO I SAT DOWN VERY EARLY ON WITH GLEN MURRAY WHO WAS THEN THE MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE ENVIRONMENT, VERY PASSIONATE ABOUT WATER ISSUES AND CLIMATE ISSUES GENERALLY. WE PUT TOGETHER A BRAINSTORMING SESSION, WE BROUGHT IN EXPERTS FROM THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, ACADEMIA, BUSINESS, NGOs, AND TALKED ABOUT HOW WE COULD WORK THIS ISSUE. WE PUT TOGETHER SOME WORKING GROUPS THAT FOCUSED ON PHOSPHORUS CONTAMINATION, RUNOFF INTO THE GREAT LAKES, PRIMARILY AGRICULTURAL RUNOFF, BUT ALSO... WE ALSO TALKED TO A CERTAIN EXTENT ABOUT ROAD SALT CONTAMINATION AND HOW WE COULD GET CONTRACTORS TO PUT LESS ROAD SALT ON OUR ROADS, STILL MAINTAIN PUBLIC SAFETY, BUT REDUCE THAT AMOUNT, WHICH WOULD ACTUALLY BE 30 percent OF WHAT YOU WOULD NORMALLY DO OR WHAT THEY WERE PUTTING ON. AND THIS WAS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT TO ME, BRINGING YOUTH INTO THE EQUATION, BECAUSE YOU HAD 17-YEAR-OLDS BRINGING TECHNOLOGICAL SOLUTIONS THAT COULD BE MONETIZED AND COMMERCIALIZED TO ADDRESS SOME OF THESE ISSUES. SO WATER WAS A BIG DEAL. WE ALSO FOCUSED ON EDUCATION, WHICH SURPRISINGLY FEW AMERICANS COME UP TO CANADA FOR... AT THE UNIVERSITY LEVEL. SO WE WORKED ON ISSUES LIKE THAT. AND THEN OF COURSE THERE WAS THE TRADE ISSUES AND SOME OF IT WAS NOT ALWAYS POSITIVE. I SAT DOWN MANY TIMES WITH ED CLARK, WHO WAS THEN PREMIER WYNNE'S POINT MAN ON WINE TO TALK ABOUT AMERICANS' CONCERNS ABOUT ACCESS TO ONTARIO WINE STORES. WE TALKED A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ISSUES LIKE THE GORDIE HOWE BRIDGE, AND THAT HAS HOPEFULLY NOW BEEN SETTLED. THOSE ARE ISSUES WE TALKED ABOUT AT THE LOCAL LEVEL AND TRADE ISSUES. WE HAD A LOT OF GOVERNORS COME UP FROM THE U.S. TO LEAD TRADE DELEGATIONS, TALK ABOUT U.S. INVESTMENT IN CANADA, JOB CREATION. SO THOSE ARE SOME OF THE ISSUES WE TALKED ABOUT.

Steve says THAT'S A VERY EXHAUSTIVE LIST. I WELL REMEMBER WE HAD STEVE FROM KENTUCKY TALKING TO US ABOUT SOME ISSUES OF MUTUAL INTEREST. A LITTLE UNDER A YEAR AND A HALF INTO YOUR TIME ON THE JOB, THE ADMINISTRATION CHANGED. DONALD TRUMP BECAME THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, AND HE, AT LEAST FOR US ANYWAY, QUITE FAMOUSLY DID NOT CONTINUE THE TRADITION OF MAKING CANADA THE FIRST FOREIGN TRIP FOR AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT, WHICH HAS BEEN THE CASE FOR A VERY, VERY, VERY LONG TIME. WHAT SIGNAL DO YOU THINK THAT SENT TO CANADA THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP DECLINED TO MAKE CANADA HIS FIRST STOP?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Juan says WELL, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAD FOCUS ELSEWHERE, BUT HONESTLY THE IDEA THAT IT TOOK SEVEN MONTHS TO NAME AN AMBASSADOR TO CANADA AFTER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION CAME IN I THINK WAS A SIGNIFICANT SIGNAL ABOUT WHERE THE RELATIONSHIP WAS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF CANADA IN AT LEAST THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S EYES. AND THEN YOU HAD OBVIOUSLY, STEVE, A VERY CONTENTIOUS RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT AND THE PRIME MINISTER. AT THE G-7 SUMMIT IN CHARLEBOIS. STEEL TARIFFS WAS A NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT, CANADA WAS A NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES WAS LAUGHABLE AND OFFENSIVE TO SOME OF OUR CANADIAN FRIENDS. AND THE PRIME MINISTER DID NOT GO DOWN TO WASHINGTON IN 2017... OR 2018 FOR THE USMCA IMPLEMENTATION AGREEMENT CEREMONY. ALL THOSE THINGS POINTED TO THE FACT THAT THERE WAS IN FACT... THE RELATIONSHIP WAS NOT AS CLOSE AS IT HAD BEEN IN THE PAST.

The caption changes to "The Trump administration and Ontario."

Steve says NOW, TELL ME HOW THIS WORKS. YOU'RE OUT NOW, SO YOU CAN REALLY BE VERY MUCH MORE HONEST NOW, OBVIOUSLY, THAN YOU COULD HAVE BEEN BACK THEN. BUT DO YOU GO TO YOUR DIRECT REPORT AND SAY, "C'MON, WE CAN'T BE CALLING THE CANADIANS NATIONAL SECURITY THREATS. THAT'S RIDICULOUS. IT'S GOING TO RUIN OUR RELATIONSHIP"? IS THAT THE KIND OF CONVERSATION YOU HAVE?

Juan says CERTAINLY WE HAD AN AMBASSADOR IN CANADA WHO WAS APPOINTED BY THE PRESIDENT. I'VE HAD CONVERSATIONS LIKE THAT IN OTHER POSTS AROUND THE WORLD WHEN I WAS CONSUL GENERAL IN BARCELONA WHERE AN AMBASSADOR SAID THINGS THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN OFFENSIVE TO CATALANS. YES, YOU SIT THERE AND DISCUSS THIS WITH YOUR SUPERIORS AND SAY TO THE AMBASSADOR OR WHATEVER, "THAT'S NOT THE BEST LANGUAGE." REMEMBER, OF COURSE, MUCH OF THIS OCCURRED AFTER I DEPARTED. I DEPARTED THE POST IN AUGUST... OR JULY OF 2018, SO SOME OF THE THINGS THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HAPPENED AFTER MY DEPARTURE. BUT EVEN IN THAT YEAR AND A HALF THAT I WAS THERE, YEAH, WE HAVE FRANK DISCUSSIONS WITH OUR COLLEAGUES AND SAID... UP IN OTTAWA AND SAID, THESE THINGS COULD BE PROBLEMATIC IN NOT JUST CANADA BUT OBVIOUSLY HERE IN ONTARIO AS WELL.

Steve says I LOVE THE DIPLOMATIC EXPRESSION "FULL AND FRANK CONVERSATIONS." COULD YOU GIVE US A LITTLE MORE HINTS ABOUT WHAT THOSE FULL AND FRANK CONVERSATIONS WERE LIKE? WAS PROFANITY USED? ANYBODY YELL AT ANYBODY? HOW DOES IT ACTUALLY WORK?

Juan says I THINK THAT... I WAS NOT IN OTTAWA WHEN THESE CONVERSATIONS WERE TAKING PLACE BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT AND THE PRIME MINISTER OR EVEN BETWEEN THE AMBASSADOR AND HER COUNTERPARTS. YOU KNOW, FORTUNATELY IN THE WORLD OF DIPLOMACY, YOU DON'T, YOU KNOW, GO DOWN TO THAT LEVEL WHERE YOU'RE TALKING TO PEOPLE IN A DEROGATORY MANNER. YOU DO HAVE, YOU KNOW, AGAIN, AS YOU POINTED OUT, FRANK DISCUSSIONS, AND SOMETIMES THESE LEAD TO PUBLIC SPATS. BUT GENERALLY SPEAKING, DIPLOMATS TRY TO KEEP THAT UNDER CONTROL.

Steve says OKAY. LET'S LOOK AHEAD TO WHAT WE PRESUME WILL BE THE BIDEN ERA STARTING IN JANUARY OF NEXT YEAR. THE COURT SYSTEM WILL DO WHAT IT DOES AS IT CONSIDERS THE COMPLAINTS OF THE OUTGOING, PRESUMABLY OUTGOING TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, BUT IN THE MEANTIME, LET'S GET A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT YOU SEE GOING FORWARD. WE HAVE, OF COURSE, THE LONGEST UNDEFENDED BORDER IN THE WORLD. WE ALWAYS LIKE TO PRIDE OURSELVES ON THE FACT THAT WE HAVEN'T HAD A SHOT FIRED IN ANGER AT OUR TWO SIDES FOR MORE THAN 200 YEARS. BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WILL TAKE TO GET THAT BORDER NORMALIZED AGAIN AND OPEN FOR PASSENGER TRAFFIC?

The caption changes to "Looking ahead to the Biden era."

Juan says WELL, A COUPLE THINGS. FIRST OF ALL, AS YOU RIGHTFULLY POINT OUT, WE HAVE HAD A LONG HISTORY OF FRIENDSHIP TOGETHER. YOU KNOW, IT'S INTERESTING. ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE I SAW SOMEBODY SEND SOMETHING TO ME, JUST AS WE WERE GOING THROUGH OUR ELECTORAL PERIOD LAST WEEK, THEY SAID, WE ARE NAMING CANADIANS, AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT CANADIAN FOR EVERY AMERICAN, IF YOU WANT ONE. BECAUSE THEY UNDERSTOOD THAT WE WERE GOING THROUGH A VERY TRAUMATIC PERIOD. THE ELECTION WAS IN FACT VERY DIVISIVE. SO I THINK THAT CANADIANS ARE BY NATURE SYMPATHETIC TO WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE UNITED STATES AND CONSIDER US, AS YOUR HEADLINES [indiscernible]. SO THAT SORT OF SITUATION CAN BE RESOLVED RELATIVELY QUICKLY BECAUSE WE HAVE COMMON VALUES, WE SHARE COMMON GOALS, COMMON INTERESTS AROUND THE WORLD. SO I'M SUSPECTING THAT BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF THE RELATIONSHIP THAT IS SO INTEGRATED ON THE ECONOMY... WE HAVEN'T TALKED ABOUT THE USMCA, WE HAVEN'T TALKED ABOUT NAFTA. BUT ALL THOSE ISSUES ARE IMPORTANT TO CANADIANS AND AMERICANS ALIKE BECAUSE OTTAWA, AND THIS IS CRITICAL IN ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN, WE WANT TO BE ABLE TO SEE THAT RELATIONSHIP CONTINUE TO FLOURISH AND GROW. YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN RIGHT NOW IS HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THE PANDEMIC RESPONSE. WE HAVE SEEN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION NOT DO WHAT SCIENTISTS AND EXPERTS HAVE SUGGESTED THAT WE DO IN TERMS OF MASK-WEARING AND OTHER KINDS OF THINGS. YOU SAW THAT THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE SUMMER AND GOING HERE INTO THE FALL. THE PRESIDENT-ELECT AND HIS TEAM, HE'S ALREADY NAMED A COVID RESPONSE TEAM THAT IS GOING TO PUT SCIENCE BACK IN THE SADDLE HERE, RIGHT? SO ONCE YOU HAVE THE PANDEMIC UNDER CONTROL, THEN YOU CAN START THINKING ABOUT OPENING THE BORDER, AND IT'S CRITICAL THAT YOU OPEN THE BORDER BECAUSE... NOW, YOU'VE GOT THIS RELATIONSHIP, IT'S 2 BILLION DOLLARS A DAY U.S. THAT GOES BACK AND FORTH WITH THE UNITED STATES IN GOODS AND SERVICES. 380 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES... OR ONTARIO AND THE UNITED STATES. AND THAT'S JOBS. THAT'S TOURISM. THAT'S EVERYTHING YOU CAN NAME. AND SOME OF THE ISSUES WE'VE TALKED ABOUT IN TERMS OF WATER, AS AN EXAMPLE, ALL THESE THINGS ARE CRITICAL BUT YOU'VE GOT TO GET THE PANDEMIC RESPONSE UNDER CONTROL FIRST AND THEN YOU CAN DEAL WITH THESE OTHER ISSUES. I THINK, AGAIN, OUR CANADIAN FRIENDS, AND I'M IN TOUCH REGULARLY WITH CANADIANS, BOTH FORMER COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS, AS I SAID, DATING ALL THE WAY BACK TO HIGH SCHOOL TO PEOPLE I MET WHILE IN TORONTO. AND ALL OF THEM ARE SYMPATHETIC TO THE VIEW THAT THIS RELATIONSHIP IS STRONG, IT'S BEEN UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE, BUT IT CAN BE RESTORED TO NORMALCY. AND THERE WILL BE ISSUES. WE WILL CONTINUE TO TALK ABOUT ISSUES LIKE SOFTWOOD LUMBER, THE DAIRY INDUSTRIES. BUT THESE ARE THE NORMAL DISAGREEMENTS BETWEEN FRIENDS. AND I THINK THAT WE CAN RE-ESTABLISH THAT AND JUST TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS WITHOUT SORT OF THE LANGUAGE AND THE RANCOR THAT CHARACTERIZED THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S RELATIONSHIP WITH CANADA.

Steve says WELL, LET ME PURSUE THAT A LITTLE MORE WITH YOU. BECAUSE AS STRANGE AS IT SOUNDS, MOST CANADIANS, WHEN YOU SURVEY THEM, WOULD VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN ANY PRESIDENTIAL CONTEST. THAT WAS CERTAINLY THE CASE IN THIS LAST ELECTION. HOWEVER, CANADIANS TEND TO DO BETTER ECONOMICALLY WHEN REPUBLICANS ARE IN CHARGE. NOW, MIND YOU, NOT THIS PAST REPUBLICAN BECAUSE TRUMP WAS NOT A CLASSIC REPUBLICAN. AND I WONDER WHETHER OR NOT CANADIANS OUGHT TO BE ALARMED AT SOME OF THE THINGS THEY'RE HEARING UNDER JOE BIDEN ALREADY. FOR EXAMPLE, HE'S CERTAINLY TALKING ABOUT A BUY AMERICA FIRST POLICY, WHICH IS, YOU KNOW, NOT NECESSARILY IF YOU'RE RUNNING A MANUFACTURING BUSINESS IN ONTARIO YOU WANT TO HEAR. SO WHAT SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT ON THAT FRONT?

Juan says CERTAINLY DEMOCRATS AND THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY AND THEREFORE PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN ARE NOT AS IN FAVOUR AS REPUBLICANS HAVE BEEN AT LEAST IN THE RECENT PAST BECAUSE OF FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS AND THESE TYPES OF THINGS BECAUSE BIDEN HAS GOT A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF HIS VOTES FROM LABOUR UNIONS SO HE IS GOING TO HAVE TO RESPOND TO THAT. ALL THAT SAID, IT IS A TWO-WAY STREET. WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT PROTECTIONIST ISSUES IN CANADA, DAIRY, SOFTWOOD LUMBER AS WELL. IT'S A TWO-WAY STREET. THE IMPORTANT THING, STEVE, IS WE CAN SIT DOWN AND DISCUSS THIS AS ADULTS NOW AND HAVE A SERIOUS CONVERSATION ABOUT HOW TO DO THIS, AND GOING BACK TO ONTARIO, I KNOW THAT PREMIER FORD, WHO IS NOT IDEOLOGICALLY ON THE SAME PAGE AS THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION, HE'S MADE SIGNIFICANT EFFORTS TO PUT TOGETHER A STRATEGIC PLAN THAT WOULD FOCUS ON TRADE WITH U.S. STATES IN PARTICULAR ON ISSUES OF PROCUREMENT. SO HE'S PUT THAT FORWARD. AND HE'S DONE A GOOD JOB, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, FROM FRIENDS ON THE PANDEMIC RESPONSE. WE CAN WORK TOGETHER ON THAT. SO I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF AREAS THAT WE CAN WORK TOGETHER, WHICH IS WHAT THE RELATIONSHIP HAS NORMALLY BEEN LIKE OVER THE YEARS, AND, AGAIN, WITHOUT THE RANCOR AND THE SILLINESS THAT YOU HAVE SEEN SOMETIMES FROM THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.

Steve says WELL, HERE'S AN INTERESTING LITTLE WRINKLE HERE IN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT-ELECT AND THE CURRENT PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA, AND THAT IS, JUSTIN IS NOT JOE'S FIRST TRUDEAU. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FACT THAT JOE BIDEN HAS HAD DEALINGS WITH PIERRE TRUDEAU IN THE PAST?

Juan says BEFORE WE GET TO THAT, OBVIOUSLY JUST AS I WAS [indiscernible] 2016 AFTER THE SURPRISE ELECTION OF NOVEMBER OF 2016, PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU HOSTED THE VICE PRESIDENT IN OTTAWA, DECEMBER 2016, AS A FAREWELL SO THEY ALREADY HAVE THAT RELATIONSHIP. WHAT YOU POINT OUT IS IMPORTANT, IT REFLECTS THE FAMILY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA. WE KNOW ABOUT THE UNFORTUNATE DEATH OF PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN AND HIS TWO DAUGHTERS AND PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU OFFERED HIS CONDOLENCES AND THOSE ARE THE TYPE OF THINGS PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN DOESN'T FORGET. THERE'S THAT FAMILY TIE THAT YOU SEE BETWEEN US.

Steve says ALL OF THAT NOTWITHSTANDING, WHEN CANADA SAYS TO JOE BIDEN, YOU KNOW, WE REALLY WOULD LOVE TO GET THAT KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE BUILT AND THE PRESIDENT-ELECT'S POSITION, PRESUMABLY HE'LL BE THE PRESIDENT AT THIS POINT, HIS POSITION IS, "WELL, MY PARTY IS OFFICIALLY AGAINST THAT." ARE WE BACK TO WHERE WE WERE FOUR YEARS AGO?

Juan says IT'S HARD [indiscernible] REMEMBER, THE KEYSTONE PIPELINE ISSUE IS CONTENTIOUS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO WILL ARGUE THAT THE TARSANDS THAT ARE GOING TO BE SUPPLYING THIS OIL ARE NOT ENVIRONMENTALLY GOOD EITHER FOR CANADA OR FOR THE UNITED STATES. SO, AGAIN, WE'LL HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT THIS, BUT IT WILL BE A CONVERSATION THAT IS PROFESSIONAL, IS FACT-BASED, AND THEN WE'LL COME TO A DECISION BASED ON OBVIOUSLY OUR OWN NATIONAL INTERESTS. WE DO HAVE DISAGREEMENTS. AND CANADA WILL PUSH THIS FORWARD AND THE UNITED STATES WILL SAY YES OR NO DEPENDING ON HOW CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES PLAY OUT. AGAIN, IT'S AN ISSUE, LIKE ALL THESE OTHER ISSUES, THAT WE CAN DISCUSS.

Steve says THAT'S TRUE. DO YOU THINK THE TRUMP TARIFFS AND THE LABELING CANADA A NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT, DO YOU THINK THOSE DAYS ARE GONE?

Juan says OH, I CERTAINLY HOPE SO. AGAIN, I, AS AN AMERICAN... AGAIN, MY POLITICAL SYMPATHIES I THINK ARE FAIRLY CLEAR... I WAS OFFENDED BY THE IDEA THAT THE COUNTRY THAT TO ME HAD BEEN A NEIGHBOUR... I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL THERE, I LIVED IN BUFFALO, NEW YORK, I CROSSED THE PEACE BRIDGE I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY COUNTLESS TIMES, THAT CANADA COULD BE SEEN AS A NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES AFTER WE HAD FOUGHT TOGETHER IN WORLD WAR I AND WORLD WAR II, A CONVERGENCE OF INTERESTS, TRADE AND EVERYTHING ELSE OVER THE COURSE OF THE YEARS, THAT THAT COULD SOMEHOW COME FORWARD, CANADIANS WERE RIGHTFULLY OFFENDED BY THAT. I'M CONFIDENT THAT THAT KIND OF THING WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN UNDER A BIDEN ADMINISTRATION.

Steve says I'M SURE YOU'VE HEARD THE RUNNING JOKE WHICH HAS BEEN OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS, BEING A CANADIAN IS LIKE LIVING IN A NICE APARTMENT ON TOP OF A METH LAB. YOU HAVE NO DOUBT THAT THAT'S NOT GOING TO BE THE CASE ANYMORE?

Juan says I WATCHED "BREAKING BAD," AND LIKE MANY OF US, AND I DON'T THINK THAT THAT'S GOING TO BE THE CASE. AGAIN, WE WILL HAVE OUR DISAGREEMENTS, STEVE, BUT THE... THE PEOPLE THAT I SPEAK TO IN CANADA RIGHT NOW, INCLUDING UP IN TORONTO, PROFESSIONALS ACROSS ALL STRIPES, ARE VERY... THEY'RE HAPPY ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED. YOU KNOW, GOING BACK TO 2016, I REMEMBER THAT OUR CONSULATE HOSTED A PARTY THE EVENING OF 2016. WE HAD 400 GUESTS COME THROUGH THAT NIGHT, PREMIER WYNNE, MAYOR TORY, OTHERS AS WELL. WE WERE VERY EXCITED ABOUT WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. AND AROUND 9:30, THE AIR JUST WENT OUT OF THE ROOM, RIGHT, BECAUSE WE SAW WHAT WAS GOING ON. THAT KIND OF THING REFLECTS CANADIAN VIEWS OF AMERICAN POLITICS AND THIS ADMINISTRATION. IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN.

Steve says WELL, LET ME JUST IN CONCLUSION HERE ASK YOU ONE LAST QUESTION, WHICH... I DON'T KNOW, I'VE ALWAYS FOUND THIS INTERESTING. MOST AMERICANS I TALK TO SEEM TO THINK CANADIANS AND AMERICANS ARE VERY, VERY SIMILAR, AND MOST CANADIANS I TALK TO SEEM TO THINK WE'RE VERY DIFFERENT FROM YOU GUYS. WHERE DO YOU COME DOWN ON THAT?

Juan says THAT'S A QUESTION I WAS ASKED ACTUALLY WHEN I WAS THERE AND I THINK THAT PROBABLY THE PRINCIPAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE U.S. AND CANADA IS THAT CANADIANS ARE ACTUALLY MUCH MORE, IN SOME RESPECTS, RISK AVERSE. YOU WILL SEE THAT IN AREAS LIKE, WELL, TECHNOLOGY, STARTUPS, THOSE SORTS OF THINGS. AND I THINK... AND I'M NOT JUST THE ONE SAYING THIS BECAUSE I HAVE ALSO HEARD THIS FROM OTHER COLLEAGUES AROUND THE WORLD [indiscernible]. SO I THINK THAT'S WHERE YOU SEE SOME DIFFERENCES. I THINK IN TERMS OF CULTURE AND SOCIAL ISSUES, WE'RE PRETTY MUCH ON THE SAME PAGE. BUT I GUESS THAT'S PROBABLY THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE I SEE. AMERICANS WILL TAKE A CHANCE MORE OFTEN THAN CANADIANS.

Steve says WELL, I SHOULD CONCLUDE BY SAYING TO A GUY FROM BUFFALO, NEW YORK, GOOD LUCK TO YOUR BILLS THIS YEAR. THEY'RE OFF TO A REALLY GOOD START. MAYBE ONE DAY THEY'LL BE KNOWN FOR ACTUALLY WINNING A SUPER BOWL RATHER THAN LOSING FOUR IN A ROW, SO GOOD LUCK ON THAT.

Juan says I ALWAYS TELL PEOPLE, AND TELL MY FRIENDS, THAT YOU CAN MAKE FUN OF BUFFALO BUT YOU CAN'T SAY THAT TO ME.

The caption changes to "Producer: Liane Kotler, @LianeKotler."

Steve laughs and says GOOD ENOUGH. THAT'S JUAN ALSACE, THE FORMER CONSUL GENERAL FROM THE UNITED STATES TO TORONTO. IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU ON TVO TONIGHT. THANKS SO MUCH.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Juan says THANK YOU SO MUCH, STEVE. GLAD TO BE ON YOUR SHOW.

Watch: Canada-U.S. Relations