Canadian diplomats are fanning out across the United States to talk up the benefits of trade with state and local leaders and counter what senior officials see as a worrying mood of protectionism swirling through the U.S. election campaign.Amid voter anger about the supposed harm done by international trade deals, both Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton have talked about altering the three-nation North American Free Trade Agreement. That could have calamitous results for Canada, which sends 75 percent of all its exports to the United States.From trade forums in Kentucky, California and Illinois addressing state legislators and small-business owners to meetings with mayors, labor unions and interest groups, a team of diplomats has gone coast to coast to explain how important Canada is as a trading partner.The diplomatic offensive comes amid concerns in Ottawa about both candidates, who opinion show are in a tight race ahead of the Nov. 8 election.Trump has talked about renegotiating the NAFTA treaty with Canada and Mexico to secure more favorable terms for the United States. But he has also said he would revive TransCanada Corp’s cross-border Keystone XL pipeline project, which Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration blocked over environment concerns. Clinton has said she opposes Keystone XL.Current and former government officials in Ottawa said a Clinton presidency posed its own challenges for Canada.They see the Democrat as tough on trade and more hawkish than Democratic President Barack Obama, who quickly struck up a warm relationship with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.While tough talk on trade has occurred in previous U.S. election campaigns, “there is an undercurrent and a mood here which is concerning me,” said David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to Washington.A Clinton campaign representative declined to comment when asked about her approach to Canada if she were elected. Trump’s campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.MacNaughton, who took up the job in March, has already visited Denver, Colorado Springs and Boston and plans trips to Massachusetts, Michigan and California next month.An embassy spokeswoman said diplomats were intensifying their outreach effort and doing more events than usual. At every meeting, they hand out tip sheets showing Canada is the top export destination for 35 U.S. states and that 9 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Canada.
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