Talking trade, climate
Trudeau’s positions may not be ‘universally embraced’ at Italy summit
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.
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.