National News

Trudeau government mum on Donald Trump conviction, vows to work with any U.S. leader

By The Canadian Press

Published 10:27 PDT, Fri May 31, 2024

Last Updated: 2:05 PDT, Fri May 31, 2024

The Canadian government remained quiet Friday after a New York court convicted Donald Trump as a felon, despite the Liberals repeatedly trying to draw equivalencies between the former U.S. president and the Canadian Conservative leader. 

A Canadian pollster says the Liberals' gambit might not favour the party's political fortunes, regardless of the verdict. 

Trump, who is expected to lead the Republicans into the next U.S. election, was found guilty Thursday on all 34 counts in his criminal hush money trial.

The Prime Minister's Office said it has no comment on the verdict, while Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly only said Canada will work with whoever leads the U.S. after this fall's election.

"The United States is not only our neighbour, but closest friend and ally," her office wrote in a statement Friday.

"Our government has successfully worked with both Republican and Democratic administrations, and this will continue."

The muted response to the conviction stands in contrast to the ways Liberals have invoked Trump in the House, in an attempt to draw parallels with Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and accuse him of what they characterize as "American-style" politics and "Trump North" tactics.

The problem for the Liberals is they aren't much more popular among Canadians right now than Trump himself is. 

Abacus Data surveyed 1,500 Canadians in January, who rated Trump at a three out of 10 on a scale of favorability.

That's compared to 3.5 for Trudeau, 4.9 for U.S. President Joe Biden and 5.1 for Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

"It makes it a really challenging dynamic for the Liberals, because people dislike (Trudeau) almost as much as they dislike Trump," he said.

Trudeau has little to gain politically by talking about the Trump verdict, Sheppard said, and he would likely reap even less benefit if Trump ends up back to the White House.

"He really has an uphill battle, in terms of playing this to his favour," Sheppard said.

The Conservatives say the Liberals use comparisons between Poilievre and Trump to distract from the economic and housing woes Canadians face, two issues Sheppard said the Tories have used to soar in the polls.

Shepperd said about 30 per cent of people who signal they intend to vote Conservative say they didn't vote for the Tories in the last election. 

Among Canadian respondents who said in a recent poll that they intended to vote Conservative, Sheppard said, about 30 per cent said they didn't vote for the Tories in the last election. 

He said the Liberals could try to chip away at that new support if they successfully manage to link Poilievre with Trump.

"It's hard to make the connection, but we did see some impact on vote intentions," he said.

Yet Sheppard said the Liberals could face more even headwinds if Trump does end up winning the election.

"In a poll we ran earlier this year, there's a wide consensus that Poilievre would do a better job of working with Trump than Trudeau would, and that's a pretty consistent finding we've seen so far," he said.

"If the Liberals really make a strong connection between Trump and Poilievre, it may end up hurting them come November."

MPs on all sides of the House have largely avoided publicly commenting on Thursday's Trump verdict.

Liberal MP Mark Gerretsen posted a social media video from the Tonight Show, which spliced together video of Trump to the tune of "I fought the law and the law won."

"This. Is. Golden," Garretsen posted Thursday on X.

NDP MP Charlie Angus, who is not seeking re-election, posted the phrase "Guilty. Guilty. Guilty." on X, accompanied by a link to a reggae tune called "Downpressor Man," about an oppressive leader unable to outrun the ills of society. 

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