By Rob Gillies
Ken Thomas And Catherine Lucey The Associated Press
QUEBEC — President Donald Trump took more swipes at Canada and its prime minister over trade issues as he settled in for a multiday summit with North Korea in Singapore, contending that “Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal.”
Trump roiled the Group of Seven meeting in Canada by first agreeing to a group statement on trade only to withdraw from it while complaining that he had been blindsided by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s criticism of Trump’s tariff threats at a summit-ending news conference. As he flew from Canada to Singapore Saturday night, Trump displayed his ire via Twitter, which he also employed to insult Trudeau as “dishonest” and “weak.”
The attack on a longtime ally and its leader drew sharp criticism. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also attended the summit, told German public television that she found Trump’s tweet disavowing the G-7 statement “sobering” and “a little depressing.” Merkel also said the European Union would “act” against the U.S. trade measures.
Unbowed, Trump tweeted anew Monday morning from Singapore: “Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal. According to a Canada release, they make almost 100 Billion Dollars in Trade with U.S. (guess they were bragging and got caught!). Minimum is 17B. Tax Dairy from us at 270%. Then Justin acts hurt when called out!”
He added: “Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades, while our Farmers, Workers & Taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay? Not fair to the PEOPLE of America! $800 Billion Trade Deficit…And add to that the fact that the U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade (they pay only a fraction of the cost-and laugh!). The European Union had a $151 Billion Surplus-should pay much more for Military!”
And he brought in Merkel’s government: ….Germany pays 1% (slowly) of GDP towards NATO, while we pay 4% of a MUCH larger GDP. Does anybody believe that makes sense? We protect Europe (which is good) at great financial loss, and then get unfairly clobbered on Trade. Change is coming!”
Earlier, the White House escalated the initial tirade and levelled more withering and unprecedented criticism against Trudeau, branding him a back-stabber unworthy of Trump’s time.
“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro said in an interview nationally broadcast Sunday in the United States.
Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said her country “does not conduct its diplomacy through ad hominem attacks.”
The verbal volleys by Navarro and Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, picked up where Trump had left off Saturday evening. Kudlow suggested Trump saw Trudeau as trying to weaken his hand before that meeting, saying the president won’t “let a Canadian prime minister push him around. … Kim must not see American weakness.”
Trudeau, who had said at the news conference that Canada would retaliate for new U.S. tariffs, didn’t respond to questions about Trump when the prime minister arrived at a Quebec City hotel Sunday for meetings with other world leaders. Freeland later told reporters that “we don’t think that’s a useful or productive way to do business.”
A Trudeau spokesman, Cameron Ahmad, said Saturday night that Trudeau “said nothing he hasn’t said before ‚Äî both in public and in private conversations” with Trump.
And Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Trudeau, jabbed at Trump on Twitter: “Big tough guy once he’s back on his airplane. Can’t do it in person. … He’s a pathetic little man-child.”
Trudeau said he had reiterated to Trump, who left the G-7 meeting before it ended, that tariffs would harm industries and workers on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. Trudeau told reporters that imposing retaliatory measures “is not something I relish doing” but that he wouldn’t hesitate to do so because “I will always protect Canadian workers and Canadian interests.”
Navarro, the Trump trade adviser, said his harsh assessment of what “bad faith” Trudeau did with “that stunt press conference” on Saturday “comes right from Air Force One.”
He said Trump “did the courtesy to Justin Trudeau to travel up to Quebec for that summit. He had other things, bigger things, on his plate in Singapore. … He did him a favour and he was even willing to sign that socialist communique. And what did Trudeau do as soon as the plane took off from Canadian airspace? Trudeau stuck our president in the back. That will not stand.”
Kudlow, in a separate TV appearance, said Trudeau was “polarizing” and “really kind of stabbed us in the back.” The Canadian leader pulled a “sophomoric political stunt for domestic consumption,” Kudlow said, that amounted to “a betrayal.”
“Don’t blame Trump. It was Trudeau who started blasting Trump after he left, after the deals had been made.” Kudlow said Trump won’t let people “take pot shots at him” and that Trudeau “should’ve known better.”
But the criticism left a former Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, stumped. “I don’t understand the obsession with trade relations with Canada,” he said, given that Canada is the biggest single buyer of American goods and services in the world. From promoting democracy and to fighting terrorism, “we’re on the same page. We’re the closest partners in the world and you don’t want to see a dispute over one particular issue poison everything.”
Trudeau had said Canadians “are polite, we’re reasonable, but also we will not be pushed around.” He described all seven leaders coming together to sign the joint declaration despite having “some strong, firm conversations on trade, and specifically on American tariffs.”
In the air by then, Trump tweeted: “Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!”
He followed up by tweeting: “PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.” Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!”
Navarro appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” and Kudlow was on CNN’s “State of the Union” and CBS’ “Face the Nation” and Harper spoke on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”