Former Canadian PM Harper Plans White House Visit Without Telling Trudeau

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
Font Size:

According to a CTV News report Thursday, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to visit the White House next week and hasn’t informed the current prime minister of his plans.

The CTV report says that emails between Harper and the White House indicate a July 2 visit to Washington. That would be the day after Canada’s tariffs on some U.S. goods, including aluminum and steel, are formally imposed. Harper reportedly will be meeting with National Security Advisor John Bolton, whom Harper knows from Bolton’s days as Ambassador to the UN.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was apparently unaware of the visit and it is not clear what the nature of Harper’s discourse with U.S. officials will be — though many are guessing it’s about tariffs, trade and NAFTA.

After nearly disappearing from public view when he lost the 2015 Canadian federal election to Trudeau and subsequently resigned as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Harper has been increasingly visible and vocal of late. On Fox News this month, he suggested that the war of words between Trudeau and President Donald Trump was escalating beyond control. “We’re the closest partners in the world and you don’t want to see one particular dispute poison everything.” (RELATED: Former Canadian PM Says Don’t Let Trade Dispute ‘Poison’ Canada-US Relations)

Harper reportedly has not communicated with any Canadian department that could conceivably be affected by his visit. It is considered good protocol for a former prime minister to provide a “heads up” to the current administration when a visit involves formal talks with a foreign government.

Harper previously upset the Trudeau government by participating in a full-page New York Times advertisement that applauded Trump’s North Korea summit.

On Wednesday, Harper was in the U.K. at the Five Eyes conference, where he held forth on Trump’s America First policy; Harper said he believed the idea transcended the current president and would be a factor in U.S. foreign policy for years to come — as well as “rapid, unorthodox, populist political change.”

Follow David on Twitter