Canadian leaders have given up on Trump—so now they’re going around him

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Donald Trump is not fit for office. He’s not stable, he has little to no interest in the nation itself, and is so self-absorbed as to judge every international interaction solely through the lens of his own momentary needs. This has turned our relationships with our allies immediately sour as each leader Trump meets with, dictators aside, finds it impossible to hold a coherent conversation with the man. When German leader Angela Merkel came to the public conclusion that the world could no longer count on a United States led by Trump, it was a dramatic policy shift by a key ally.

After only a few interactions with Trump, the Canadian government likewise decided that attempting to communicate substantively with Team Trump was a lost cause. Their workaround is now to largely ignore him, instead focusing on working with individual states and cities. It’s been more effective, and is a preview of what our nation’s relationship with the rest of its closest allies might soon look like.

Canadian officials have fanned out across the United States, meeting with mayors, governors, members of Congress and business leaders on matters from trade to the environment.

Ministers’ schedules resemble those of rock bands on summer tours. They travel armed with data on the precise dollar amount and number of jobs supported by Canadian firms and trade in that area. […]

“Something snapped in the last few weeks,” said Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trudeau. With trade threats looming, Mr. Trump’s break on climate convinced Canadian leaders of the need for drastic steps.

Since then, Mr. Paris said, “the approach has been to maintain cordial relations with the White House while going to extraordinary lengths to activate American decision makers at all levels of the political system.”

The irony of Trump’s bullying is that it threatens to make him impotent. If international allies decide there’s simply no point in negotiating with Trump—given that he both lies during the interactions and can’t be counted on to uphold whatever he agrees to in those conversations anyway—they will certainly ignore him. That which can be negotiated with individual states will be negotiated with individual states, and that which can’t be will simply be placed on hold in the hopes that the United States will at some future point have a leader who is not mentally ill.