North­ern ex­po­sure is­sue brings some chuck­les

Wall with Canada? White House, me­dia share laugh over query

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - ALEXAN­DER PANETTA

WASH­ING­TON — White House spokesper­son Sean Spicer laughed off the idea of build­ing a wall along the north­ern U.S. bor­der Thurs­day af­ter a jour­nal­ist from Mon­tana floated the no­tion dur­ing his daily me­dia brief­ing.

Spicer and the as­sem­bled re­porters had to guf­faw when the NBC News re­porter, tak­ing part via video link, asked whether there were plans to ap­ply to Canada the same treat­ment U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has di­rected at Mex­ico.

One mil­lion trav­ellers a year cross the bor­der into Mon­tana, she said, adding, “What are the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plans to in­crease se­cu­rity on the Cana­dian bor­der and does the ad­min­is­tra­tion have any plans to build a wall there?”

Cue the chuck­les in the White House brief­ing room.

The tim­ing of the ques­tion car­ried some irony. News sto­ries in re­cent days have been about peo­ple flee­ing the other way — mi­grants leav­ing the United States on foot and tak­ing unofficial routes to cross into Canada.

It also came af­ter a phone call Thurs­day be­tween Trump and Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, where the bor­der was one topic. It was the fourth con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the two since the Nov. 8 elec­tion, and the third by phone.

State­ments from both coun­tries saluted their meet­ing last week in Wash­ing­ton.

They were vague about what got dis­cussed re­gard­ing the bor­der, and whether the lead­ers men­tioned the mi­grant sit­u­a­tion. The Cana­dian state­ment merely men­tioned the bor­der, in pass­ing, as a con­ver­sa­tion topic.

“Pres­i­dent Trump em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of work­ing closely with Canada on cross-bor­der is­sues, in­clud­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ac­tions to pro­tect Amer­ica from ter­ror­ist at­tacks by for­eign na­tion­als and oth­ers,” said the White House state­ment.

“The two lead­ers noted their de­sire to con­tinue build­ing on the coun­tries’ deep part­ner­ship, which has been strength­ened by their meet­ing on Feb. 13.”

They also dis­cussed soft­wood lum­ber ne­go­ti­a­tions, which have lan­guished for months with­out a res­o­lu­tion.

They also talked about work­ing on the Canada-U.S. women’s busi­ness group they cre­ated with Trump’s daugh­ter Ivanka.

Trump him­self de­scribed that ini­tia­tive as “very im­por­tant” to him dur­ing a news con­fer­ence last week.

One thing they likely didn’t dis­cuss: the U.S. build­ing a wall with Canada. Trump has twice brushed off the idea in the past, and his spokesper­son, af­ter an ini­tial laugh with the White House press corps, avoided di­rectly an­swer­ing the ques­tion.

“I think the pres­i­dent un­der­stands our south­ern bor­der is where we have more of a con­cern in terms of the num­ber of peo­ple and the type of ac­tiv­ity that’s com­ing over there — in terms of the car­tels, the drug ac­tiv­ity,” Spicer said.

“But that doesn’t mean we’re not pay­ing at­ten­tion to our north­ern bor­der as well. We will con­tinue to mon­i­tor and take steps nec­es­sary at our north­ern bor­der to en­sure the safety of all Amer­i­cans.”

DREW ANGERER, GETTY IMAGES

A mother and child from Turkey are es­corted by Royal Cana­dian Mounted Po­lice af­ter they crossed the U.S.-Canada bor­der into Canada Thurs­day in Hem­ming­ford, Que­bec.

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