Alberta plays a pivotal role in a new story about Canada-U.S trade

Canada’s dependence on trade with the U.S. is critical, yet the traditional narrative of emphasizing the importance of trade and neighborly relations is no longer effective, particularly amid a rising skepticism towards trade in the U.S. For many populist economists and political commentators, the prevailing view is that trade has contributed to the decline of the American middle class and the erosion of communities across the country, with trade deficits serving as tangible evidence of this perceived problem.

This sentiment is underscored in the trade segment of the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 report, a blueprint for a potential second Trump administration authored by key trade figure Peter Navarro. Despite its potential inaccuracies, this prevailing view poses challenges for countries like Canada, which boasts the second-largest trade surplus with the U.S. after China—a position that raises concerns, especially in light of the upcoming 2026 North American trade agreement renegotiations.

Alberta plays a pivotal role in a new story about Canada-U.S trade

However, Canada’s trade surplus with the U.S., largely driven by Alberta and Saskatchewan’s oil and gas exports, presents a unique narrative that diverges from the prevailing anti-trade sentiment. Unlike consumer goods and products from China that may impact U.S. jobs, Canada’s energy exports directly contribute to job creation in the U.S., particularly in the oil and gas sector.

To effectively convey this distinction, there is a need for a new messaging strategy tailored to resonate with the evolving U.S. political landscape. Instead of the conventional rhetoric, a more direct and impactful approach—such as highlighting how “we export jobs to the U.S.”—may better capture attention and address concerns raised by figures like Navarro.

This narrative, while crucial for Canada as a whole, is predominantly driven by Alberta and Saskatchewan’s energy sectors, making it a story that requires localized advocacy rather than a federal government-led initiative. As Canada navigates its trade relations with the U.S., it is imperative to incorporate this perspective into the broader dialogue to ensure a more effective and resonant communication strategy.

Gary Mar, President and CEO of the Canada West Foundation, and Carlo Dade, Director of Trade and Trade Infrastructure, advocate for this nuanced approach, emphasizing the importance of tailored messaging to effectively engage with diverse stakeholders across the political spectrum in the U.S.