Talk­ing trade, cli­mate

Trudeau’s po­si­tions may not be ‘uni­ver­sally em­braced’ at Italy sum­mit

Cape Breton Post - - Business -

Canada in­tends to cham­pion the ben­e­fits of free trade and ac­tion on cli­mate change at the G7 sum­mit, which got un­der­way Fri­day in Si­cily - even as U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tries to steer the world in an­other di­rec­tion.

“There are clearly some ar­eas where the Cana­dian po­si­tion may not be uni­ver­sally em­braced,” said For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land.

A Cana­dian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial with knowl­edge of the ne­go­ti­a­tions said in­ter­na­tional trade and the Paris agree­ment on cli­mate change - which Trump could back out of - re­main ma­jor stick­ing points that will likely keep talks go­ing through the night.

Aides in the White House are di­rectly in­volved in the talks, said the of­fi­cial, who wasn’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter pub­licly and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, the leader with the third-most se­nior­ity at the G7 ta­ble, will be look­ing to find com­mon ground among the seven lead­ers while stand­ing firmly be­hind Canada’s po­si­tions, Free­land said.

“We’re al­ways go­ing to be clear at these meet­ings that cli­mate change is a hugely im­por­tant is­sue,” she said. “It’s hugely im­por­tant for Cana­di­ans, and we are proud to be tak­ing a strong stand at home, a strong stand around the world on this is­sue.”

The same thing goes for free trade, Free­land added.

“Canada be­lieves very strongly in a rules-based in­ter­na­tional trad­ing or­der. We’re a trad­ing na­tion and we’re al­ways go­ing to stand up for that.”

There are also likely to be gaps be­tween the lead­ers on mi­gra­tion pol­icy, noted the of­fi­cial - while ev­ery­one agrees on the need for se­cure bor­ders, Trudeau is among those who also high­light the ben­e­fits of an ef­fec­tive im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy.

There are four new lead­ers, in­clud­ing Trump, at the sum­mit this year. The oth­ers are French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May and the host of the sum­mit, Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Paolo Gen­tiloni.

That can bring a pe­riod of ad­just­ment as the new­com­ers learn to see the ben­e­fits of hav­ing a smaller group that op­er­ates on dia­logue and con­sen­sus, the Cana­dian of­fi­cial pointed out.

John Kir­ton, di­rec­tor of the G7 Re­search Group at the Univer­sity of Toronto, said the meet­ings are per­fect for some­one like Trump, who loves to be in­volved in mak­ing deals.

“It is highly in­for­mal, highly in­ter­ac­tive and they speak in very col­lo­quial lan­guage to each other,” Kir­ton said.

In­deed, Trump is all ears, the pres­i­dent’s chief eco­nomic ad­viser Gary Cohn said Fri­day.

“We want to have an open dia­logue,” Cohn said. “If you know how it’s go­ing to go, then what’s the point?”

Trudeau is also set to meet with Trump briefly on Satur­day.

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment had been hop­ing to se­cure a meet­ing in or­der to con­tinue to press its case on the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment and other big cross-bor­der is­sues.

Trudeau is ex­pect­ing to find an ally on free trade, cli­mate change and other so-called pro­gres­sive is­sues in Macron, the newly elected French pres­i­dent with whom he had a bi­lat­eral meet­ing Fri­day.

AP PHOTO

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and First Lady Me­la­nia, talk with Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau as they ar­rive for a con­cert in the An­cient Theatre of Taormina in the Si­cil­ian citadel of Taormina, Italy, Fri­day.

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