Trudeau-Trump Wash­ing­ton meet­ing helps end Canada’s global lone­li­ness

The Prince George Citizen - - News - Mike BLANCH­FIELD

WASH­ING­TON — Canada sud­denly be­came a lit­tle less lonely in the world af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s meet­ing in Wash­ing­ton with U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump this week.

Trudeau and Trump found a new sim­patico over their shared de­sire to see the new North Amer­i­can trade deal fully rat­i­fied. Trudeau pushed the deal with Trump’s Demo­cratic op­po­nents in Congress, who want to see a ma­jor tough­en­ing of the labour en­force­ment pro­vi­sions of the United States-Mex­ico-Canada Agree­ment.

While Trudeau was cagey on ex­actly what Trump would do to help free Michael Savoir and Michael Kovrig, the two Cana­di­ans im­pris­oned in China, when he meets China’s Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at next week’s G20 lead­ers’ sum­mit in Ja­pan, it was clear the pres­i­dent was happy to help. The two Cana­di­ans have been lan­guish­ing be­hind bars in China since shortly af­ter Canada ar­rested high tech ex­ec­u­tive Meng Wanzhou in De­cem­ber in re­sponse of a U.S. ex­tra­di­tion re­quest.

Canada has been caught in the cross­fire of the China-U.S. trade war af­ter it tried to do the right thing by ar­rest­ing Meng as per its ex­tra­di­tion treaty with the U.S.

If Xi doesn’t want to talk to Trudeau, Trump said he would: “I’ll rep­re­sent him well, I will tell you.”

It was a sea change from Trump’s dumpster fire of a visit to Canada a lit­tle over a year ago to the G7 sum­mit in Que­bec where he in­sulted Trudeau over Twit­ter. And it marked a re­turn to the tra­di­tional Canada-U.S. dy­namic: friends and al­lies who have the oth­ers’ back.

Mov­ing for­ward, it has real ram­i­fi­ca­tions for Canada’s stand­ing on the world stage and it gave Trudeau a much-needed jolt do­mes­ti­cally as he heads into an Oc­to­ber fed­eral elec­tion.

Both lead­ers are work­ing to rat­ify USMCA, but Trump faces still op­po­si­tion among some Con­gres­sional Democrats. But as he ex­tolled the ben­e­fits of the deal, Trump was unusu­ally con­cil­ia­tory to­wards his coun­try’s two neigh­bours – coun­tries he reg­u­larly dis­par­aged dur­ing the ac­ri­mo­nious rene­go­ti­a­tion of the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

“This means a lot of jobs for our coun­try; a lot of wealth for all three coun­tries. And we’re re­ally com­pet­ing against the world. You know, we’re not com­pet­ing with each other so much,” Trump said sit­ting next to Trudeau in the Oval Of­fice.

“We’re com­pet­ing against big sec­tions of the world, in­clud­ing Asia and in­clud­ing other ar­eas.”

Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion of sol­i­dar­ity amounted to “mis­sion ac­com­plished” for Trudeau in Wash­ing­ton, said Dan Ujczo, a cross-bor­der ex­pert with the Ohio law firm Dick­in­son Wright.

“The fo­cus was on com­mon cause is­sues be­tween Canada and the United States – con­fronting China, the in­ter­twined trad­ing re­la­tion­ship, and shared cul­ture with the Toronto Rap­tors – as op­posed to the dis­pute-cen­tric fo­cus that has dom­i­nated th­ese meet­ings over re­cent years,” said Ujczo.

“When Pres­i­dent Trump starts talk­ing about Canada, the U.S. and North Amer­ica against the world, it is a good day for the con­ti­nent. Let us hope it lasts.”

Scotty Green­wood, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Wash­ing­ton-based Cana­dian Amer­i­can Busi­ness Coun­cil, said the Amer­i­can path to rat­i­fy­ing USCMA in Congress will likely be part of a “grand bar­gain” be­tween Repub­li­cans and Democrats – one she sug­gested that Trudeau could be use­ful with, not­with­stand­ing his stated de­sire Thurs­day to stay out of in­ter­nal U.S. pol­i­tics.

“The Lib­er­als in Canada are philo­soph­i­cally aligned with the Democrats in the United States,” said Green­wood, who was also a U.S. diplo­mat in Ot­tawa when Bill Clin­ton was pres­i­dent. “So if Cana­dian Lib­er­als can see their way clear to a deal, one would hope that the same sort of ar­gu­ments that caused them to get over their ini­tial con­cerns would be per­sua­sive with Democrats in the Congress.”

The visit also un­der­scored the shared se­cu­rity part­ner­ship the U.S. and Canada share across the globe.

Trudeau was im­me­di­ately en­meshed in the lat­est es­ca­la­tion in U.S.-Iran ten­sions when news of Iran’s Revo­lu­tion­ary Guard shoot­ing down a U.S. sur­veil­lance drone broke hours be­fore he was to meet Trump.

Trudeau noted how Cana­dian sol­diers are in nearby Iraq as part of a NATO ef­fort to train the coun­try’s mil­i­tary forces.

“We look for­ward to dis­cussing with our clos­est ally their per­spec­tives on this and how we can move for­ward as an in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.”

Trump showed he was will­ing to draw Trudeau into broader in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity dis­cus­sion when the pres­i­dent was asked whether he was con­cerned some mem­bers of his ad­min­is­tra­tion might be try­ing to push him into a con­flict with Iran. It came when he riffed about his de­sire to with­draw Amer­i­can forces from Afghanista­n and Syria.

“We beat the caliphate. We took back 100 per cent of the caliphate. When it was 99 per cent, Justin, I said, ‘We’re go­ing to get out. We’re go­ing to start peel­ing back,”’ Trump said.

But some are wary that Trump hasn’t re­ally changed, and they ques­tion whether he could turn on Trudeau again.

“All smiles, I dare say, un­til the next pres­i­den­tial Twit­ter burst,” said Fen Hamp­son, a global se­cu­rity ex­pert with Car­leton Univer­sity’s Nor­man Pater­son School of In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs.

Trump is a count­ing in Trudeau “to de­liver Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats to rat­ify USMCA be­fore the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.” And his com­ments on Thurs­day for a po­ten­tial snap back on steel and alu­minum tar­iffs was not re­as­sur­ing, said Hamp­son.

“And though he says he will pro­vide run­ning in­ter­fer­ence with the Chi­nese on Cana­dian de­tainees and Trudeau’s de­sire to meet with Xi at the G20 sum­mit, the only way that is­sue is go­ing to be re­solved is if the Amer­i­cans drop their crim­i­nal charges against Meng Wanzhou.”


Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau speaks to re­porters from the roof of the Cana­dian Em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton af­ter a day of meet­ings with U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and lead­ers in Congress on Thurs­day.


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