Canada Not A Trump Trade Target, Says Ambassador

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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As Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convenes a retreat in Calgary, Alberta on Monday, Canada’s ambassador to the United States is telling Canadians not to worry about a cross-border trade war with the United States because President Donald Trump is fixated on Mexico.

David MacNaughton told reporters Sunday the Liberal government has matters under control with its top-level preliminary discussions with the Trump transition team. He suggested that Canada is not “at all” in Trump’s cross-hairs.

MacNaughton said the U.S. is “principally focused on countries that have large trade deficits with them [Mexico and China] … they haven’t said anything specific about real problems they have with us … but, I mean, we are part of NAFTA so there are discussions that need to be had.”

He added there is a “worry” that Canada could be “collateral damage” of the administration’s push to rethink the country’s trade deals.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is sending mixed signals to Trump. On Sunday he tweeted that the  the anti-Trump women’s marches that were taking place across the U.S. and Canada “keep your government inspired.” Cosmopolitan opined on Monday that “Trudeau’s response to the Women’s March is yet another reason you should move to Canada,” and suggested that it was “time to learn the words to ‘O Canada.'”

Trudeau is in Calgary for the next two days on a retreat with his cabinet and trusted advisers.

“Discussions throughout the retreat will span a range of issues — including strengthening the economy and growing the middle class, security, and the strength of the Canada-U.S. partnership and maintaining a constructive working relationship with the new administration,” Cameron Ahmad, a spokesperson for the prime minister, said of the meetings.

The retreat comes hours after Trump told reporters in Washington that he will soon meet separately with both Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and addressing ongoing border issues with the Mexico.

MacNaughton did express some concern that not everyone on the Trump team understood the “depth and breadth” of complicated relationship between Canada and the U.S. that straddles the economic, military/security and cultural sectors.

“Some of the rhetoric around protectionism is worrisome,” he said, adding that Canada has “a lot of leverage” because of cross-border trade between states and provinces.

He said he is seeking a  “win-wn” for both counties.

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