Com­mit­tee wants to quiz For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land on Canada-U.S. re­la­tions

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE BLANCHFIELD OTTAWA —

A House of Com­mons com­mit­tee wants to ques­tion For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land about her sweep­ing new man­date to ad­vance Canada’s re­la­tions with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Bob Nault, for­eign af­fairs com­mit­tee chair­per­son and Lib­eral MP, said Free­land’s ap­pear­ance would be part of a broad study of Canada-U.S. re­la­tions that is set to start next week.

The com­mit­tee will also be delv­ing into Canada-Rus­sia re­la­tions fol­low­ing its re­cent trip to Poland, Ukraine and Latvia, where it got an ear­ful about the threats posed by Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Nault said Free­land’s march­ing or­ders from Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau are un­prece­dented be­cause they make her the de-facto trade min­is­ter with United States as well as Canada’s top diplo­mat.

“She has a man­date let­ter that is not one I’ve seen be­fore, in my time,” the vet­eran MP said in an in­ter­view.

“So that will be in­ter­est­ing to have her ex­plain what she’s been asked to do by the prime min­is­ter, specif­i­cally the fact that she’s the for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter but also the trade min­is­ter.”

The com­mit­tee wants to hear from ex­perts from both sides of the bor­der who can ex­plain to Cana­di­ans the depth and im­por­tance of the re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries, he said.

“Peo­ple should not look at our re­la­tion­ship through the lens of an in­di­vid­ual politi­cian, or one is­sue or an­other. It’s a lot larger than that,” Nault said.

He said he wants the hear­ings tele­vised so Cana­di­ans can hear that di­rectly.

Free­land’s of­fice says the min­is­ter is ex­pected to tes­tify be­fore the com­mit­tee, but no date has been set.

As Free­land fin­ished her two-day trip to Wash­ing­ton on Wed­nes­day, she said she told U.S. politi­cians that Canada would strongly op­pose new tar­iffs on cross-bor­der trade. She dropped strong hints of re­tal­i­a­tion.

AN­DREW HARNIK, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cana­dian For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land met with Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son at the State Depart­ment in Wash­ing­ton on Wed­nes­day.

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