Trudeau's trade disaster with Trump was a long time coming

By: Candice Malcolm

June 15, 2018

The Trudeau government was in damage-control mode after a spat erupted following Canada-U.S. trade negotiations during the G7 meetings

Bizarrely, the brewing trade war seems to have been sparked by a misunderstanding.

The U.S. had been pushing for a five-year sunset clause on a new trade agreement, something Trudeau insisted he would not budge on. But according to CBC news, Trump agreed to waive the clause and the two leaders shook hands and appeared to have reached an agreement that would make Canada exempt from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.

Then, Trudeau gave a news conference saying that Trump’s reasoning for tariffs is “kind of insulting” and stated that Canada “will not be pushed around.”

According to Trump, he was shocked by Trudeau’s combative tone after what he thought was a productive meeting.

Trump reacted – over-reacted – by issuing a string of insulting Tweets personally attacking Trudeau. Trump again discussed the perceived slight by Trudeau while speaking to the media in Singapore during his summit with North Korea.

“That’s going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada,” said Trump.

This is a stark reversal in Trump’s policy towards Canada since he was elected. In January 2017, Trump said he had no problem with Canada.

He called the trade relationship "very fair" and "balanced."

What has changed?

Aside from Trudeau’s apparent blunder over the weekend, his Liberal government has not exactly operated in good faith towards the leader of our closest ally and largest trading partner. 

The True North Initiative compiled the public comments and social media posts made by Trudeau Liberals to mock, attack and denounce Trump.

Regardless of what you think of Trump – there are many legitimate reasons to dislike his rhetoric and style – but our elected officials should be polite and cordial when dealing with an important ally. They should be professional, and keep their petty comments private. 

This trade disaster was a long time coming. And while we should all rally behind Canada and put Canada first, Trudeau’s diplomatic missteps must be acknowledged.

Let’s hope cooler heads prevail, and Trudeau recruits someone with greater credibility (Stephen Harper, maybe?) who can be the grown up at the table, and negotiate a deal with Trump and the Americans.