Trump can expect chilly host in Canada
When President Ronald Reagan visited Canada three decades ago, he was so friendly with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney they sang a song together.
Expect no duets when President Donald Trump makes his first presidential visit to Canada today for a summit in a picturesque Quebec town with the leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies. Themood will likely be something less than harmonious.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn’t been shy about venting his fury with Trump for imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports — including Canada’s— and for justifying the protectionist move by calling those imports a threat to U.S. national se- curity.
Trudeau has charged that he found the tariffs “insulting” and said such tactics are hardly how two close allies and trading partners that fought side-by-side inWorld War II, Korea and Afghanistan should treat one another. The Trump administration has also clashed with Canada over his insistence that the 24-yearold North American Free Trade Agreement involving the United States, Canada andMexico be written to better serve the U.S
The prime minister had at first refrained from criticizing Trump, apparently in the hope that he could forge a personal relationship that might help preserve the landmark free trade deal, a forerunner of which Reagan and Mulroney negotiated. Those two leaders became fast friends and famously sang “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” together in Quebec City in 1985.
Trudeau’s courting of Trump appeared to work for a time. The president had initially exempted Canada from the steel and aluminumtariffs inMarch. But Trudeau became exasperated and took a shot after Trump let the exemption expire last week.
“We’ll continue to make arguments based on logic and common sense,” he said, “and hope that eventually they will prevail against an administration that doesn’t always align itself around those principles.”
The prime minister had hoped to visit Washington last week to complete what he thought would be the final stages of the NAFTA renegotiation. But Vice PresidentMike Pence called and demanded he agree to a “sunset clause” that would end NAFTA unless the three countries agreed to extend it every five years.
Trudeau refused, and he canceled the proposed visit. NAFTA talks stalled. Since then, Trump has sounded hostile at times toward Canada.
Nelson Wiseman, a professor at the University of Toronto, said he can’t recall relations between U. S. and Canada being worse. He said the G-7 meeting will appear to be six lined up against one. Therehas evenbeen speculationthat Trumpmight walk out of themeetings— or even decide not to show up.