Ottawa Citizen

Trudeau, Italian PM bond ahead of summit

Trump looms over talks before meeting of G7



• One day after Donald Trump called Canada a “disgrace” for policies that hurt American farmers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he plans to be respectful and engage with the U.S. on a fact-based approach to solve problems.

“I will stand up for Canada’s interests,” Trudeau said Friday during a news conference alongside the visiting Italian prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni. “The way to do that is to make arguments in a respectful fashion, based on facts, and work constructi­vely and collaborat­ively with our neighbours.”

Trudeau offered that reply to the U.S. president’s latest anti-Canada trade tirade, one in which Trump savaged Canada for creating a new lower-priced classifica­tion of a milk product that he argues hurts U.S. producers.

Trump’s presence was strongly felt during Gentiloni’s visit, as is almost routine with most of Trudeau’s internatio­nal interactio­ns.

Both Trudeau and Gentiloni, who met Trump in Washington on Thursday, were keen to display their support for free trade and open borders — including the Canada-EU free trade pact — in the face of growing populist opposition.

They took pains not to offend the man most closely associated with the growing popularity of protection­ist trade measures and closed borders: Trump.

Trudeau adhered to his firm, don’t-offend-Trump strategy. Gentiloni insisted he wasn’t singling out the U.S. president — even though he appeared to drop hints in that direction from the moment of his first public handshake with Trudeau.

“The United States president’s opinions are perfectly legitimate,” the Italian leader said through a translator at a joint press conference with Trudeau. “But we have to be aware of the fact that this push that goes against free trade as a catalyst for world growth … we need to work politicall­y, culturally and economical­ly to fight against this trend.”

Trudeau and Gentiloni will be dealing with Trump in person because Italy is to host the G7 leaders’ summit next month, which will be part of Trump’s entry into the world of multilater­al summitry. Trump will debut at the NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels a day ahead of the G7 gathering.

For Canada, next month’s G7 will serve as a handover for next year, when its turn comes to host the gathering.

That means Trump will be visiting somewhere in Canada in 2018 and the world’s attention will undoubtedl­y be focused on the event.

Trudeau said the upcoming summit formed a large part of his talks with Gentiloni. Trudeau also said he will have an audience with Pope Francis after the G7 talks.

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