Canadian Prime Minister was rattled at a Thursday afternoon news conference in Washington when a CTV reporter asked him if his relationship with President Donald Trump had improved since Trump castigated him as being “dishonest and weak” in a tweet after last summer’s G-7 summit in Quebec.
Trump left the 2018 summit in a fury over Trudeau’s insistence on protecting Canada’s dairy industry. As soon as he arrived home, he tweeted that although Trudeau appears to be “meek and mild” he is really “dishonest and weak.”
At the news conference, held on the rooftop of the Canadian Embassy, Trudeau insisted that his relationship with the president is based on “things that matter,” which he described as “working to grow our economies [and] support our middle class.” (RELATED: Trudeau Says He Understands Trump Better, But That Doesn’t Necessarily Mean He’ll ‘Hang Out’ With Him)
Trudeau was in Washington for a whirlwind series of meetings with Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trudeau was trying to gauge the probability of the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) being ratified by Congress this summer.
When asked if he was able to “sway Nancy Pelosi at all in terms of ratification” Trudeau responded: “We had a very good meeting, not just with speaker Pelosi but with leadership from both sides of the House. We had a very frank and positive conversation about the path forward to creating better opportunities for citizens, for workers on both sides of our border.”
But Trudeau made it clear that the United States will have to decide for itself about approving “the new NAFTA.” He said he fully respects “the conversations and discussions going on in their ratification process. I offered to be helpful in responding and allaying certain fears but Canada is not going to get involved in the ratification process that the American Congress needs to go through.” (RELATED: Trump Trade Advisor: There’s A ‘Special Place In Hell’ For Trudeau)
Trump has indicated that he expects the House to ratify the trade deal before any action is taken on funding new infrastructure projects.
Trudeau said he also discussed border security issues with Trump and that both leaders are committed to easing border delays through the “pre-clearance of travellers.” The prime minster also raised the matter of softwood lumber duties on Canadian exports to the U.S., a contentious trade issue between the two countries.
Their conversation also encompassed the opioid crisis, which Trudeau described as “another challenge we share with our southern neighbors.” He said he and the president “have both seen the devastating consequences of illegal drugs on individuals, on families, and our communities. Building on existing efforts we agreed to co-develop a strategy to address every aspect of this crisis.”
The prime minister reminded reporters that “Canada and the U.S. have a proud history of innovating together, whether it be in the sciences, in the world of entertainment or on matters of nation security and we must continue in this tradition.”