Date
11 December 2018
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) meets with US President Donald Trump during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, on June 8. Photo: Reuters
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) meets with US President Donald Trump during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, on June 8. Photo: Reuters

US-Canada row escalates after tense G7 meeting

The United States and Canada swung sharply toward a diplomatic and trade crisis on Sunday as top White House advisers lashed out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a day after US President Trump called him “very dishonest and weak”, Reuters reports.

The spat drew in Germany and France, which sharply criticized Trump’s decision to abruptly withdraw his support for a G7 communique hammered out at a Saturday summit, the report said.

“Canada does not conduct its diplomacy through ad hominem attacks … and we refrain particularly from ad hominem attacks when it comes to a close ally,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters on Sunday.

Freeland reiterated that Canada will retaliate to US tariffs in a measured and reciprocal way, adding Canada will always be willing to talk.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow accused Trudeau of betraying Trump with “polarizing” statements on trade policy that risked making the US leader look weak ahead of a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jon-un.

“(Trudeau) really kind of stabbed us in the back,” Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council who had accompanied Trump to Canada, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Trade adviser Peter Navarro said on a Fox News TV program that “there is a special place in hell for any leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy” with Trump.

Trudeau got direct personal support from some European leaders.

British Prime Minister Theresa May “is fully supportive” of Trudeau and his leadership, a senior UK government source told Reuters, while European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: “There is a special place in heaven for @JustinTrudeau.”

Freeland, asked about support from allies, said: “The position of our European allies, including Japan, is the same as ours. We coordinated very closely with the European Union, with Mexico, on our list of retaliatory measures and actions.”

Europe will implement counter-measures against US tariffs on steel and aluminum just like Canada, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, voicing regret about Trump’s decision to withdraw support for the G7 communique.

Trudeau’s office said he had not said anything in his closing G7 news conference he has not said to Trump before.

The majority of Canadian exports go to the US, making Canada uniquely vulnerable to a US trade war.

Trump’s backing out of the joint communique torpedoed what appeared to be a fragile consensus on a trade dispute between Washington and its top allies.

The US president also said he might double down on import tariffs by hitting the sensitive auto industry, throwing the G7’s efforts to show a united front into disarray.

“In a matter of seconds, you can destroy trust with 280 Twitter characters,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said when asked about Trump’s U-turn.

France is also standing by the G7 communique, a French presidency official said.

Trump has infuriated the European Union, Canada and Mexico by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

“This is of great concern to the G7. I do not know where we go from here. It is impossible to predict what Trump will do next,” Reuters cited a senior G7 official as saying on the summit outcome.

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RC

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