Freeland swings hard at Trump’s policies
OTTAWA • Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland prepared Wednesday night to deliver a striking rebuke of United States policies under President Donald Trump, and a clear warning that democracy in the world is under threat.
The text of the speech, provided in advance to the National Post, contains the strongest language yet from the Canadian administration criticizing U.S. protectionism and its recent tariffs on steel and aluminum.
The speech sharply expresses, and on American soil, what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press conference after the Group of Seven summit on Saturday — that Canada won’t be “pushed around” by its neighbour. Trump had connected those comments to a decision to pull his support for a joint statement by the G7 countries, shortly after it was published, and to consider new automobile tariffs on imports to the U.S.
The idea that democracy could fail may seem “outlandish,” the speech says. “But other great civilizations have risen — and then fallen. It is hubris to think we will inevitably be different.”
When the economic future of people living inside liberal democracies is threatened, the speech says, “that’s when people are vulnerable to the demagogue who scapegoats the outsider, the other — whether it’s immigrants at home or foreign actors.”
The speech invokes American President Abraham Lincoln himself before launching into what seems to be a direct message to Trump: “Facts matter. Truth matters. Competence and honesty, among elected leaders and in our public service, matter.”
In a part of the speech that focuses on the Canada-U.S. relationship, Freeland acknowledges, “we also understand that many Americans today are no longer certain that the rules-based international order — of which you were the principal architect and for which you wrote the biggest cheques — still benefits America.” This is seen “most plainly,” the speech says, in the steel and aluminum tariffs that the U.S. has imposed on Canada on a “national security” basis.
The minister then broaches new territory. “They are protectionism, pure and simple. They are not a response to unfair actions by other countries that put American industry at a disadvantage. They are a naked example of the United States putting its thumb on the scale, in violation of the very rules it helped to write.” The European Union and Mexico, which are also facing tariffs, “share our astonishment and our resolve,” the speech continues.
“No one will benefit from this beggar thy neighbour dispute. The price will be paid, in part, by American consumers and by American businesses,” it reads.
(CONSERVATIVES) RUN THE RISK OF SPLITTING THE PARTY BY ACTING WITH SUCH IMPUNITY AGAINST SOMEONE WHO WOULD HAVE BEEN LEADER IF AS FEW AS 66 VOTES IN EIGHT RIDINGS HAD GONE IN HIS FAVOUR. — JOHN IVISON