Just hours after issuing a series of aggressive messages about global trade and Canadian dairy practices, Donald Trump has arrived in Quebec to attend some of the G7 summit — his first visit to Canada as U.S. president.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hosting the world’s most powerful countries at the two-day summit in La Malbaie, in Quebec’s Charlevoix region.
For the past week, it was an open question in official Ottawa whether Trump would actually show up, given his recent trade actions against the other G7 countries and his increasingly antagonistic comments about their approach to international relations.
He is not expected to stay till the end of the summit.
He will miss the final session on climate change on Saturday and instead fly directly from Charlevoix to Singapore to meet the leader of North Korea in a much-anticipated summit.
Trudeau has said the Quebec summit offers the G7 leaders an opportunity to find solutions to their many differences.
But Trump is provoking his fellow G7 leaders by calling for Russia’s reinstatement in the group, after it was kicked out for invading Ukraine four years ago.
“Why are we having a meeting without Russia in the meeting?” Trump said at the White House just before departing.
“They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”
That comment has Trump squarely offside with this fellow G7 leaders, including Canada, who view Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and its meddling in western elections as a major international security concern.
The U.S. president is lashing out on several fronts.
As he prepared to travel to Canada, he ramped up his blast of Canada on Twitter this morning over what he says are unfair trade practices.
Just after 6 a.m., Trump used the social media platform to accuse Canada of charging U.S. customers astronomical tariffs on dairy products.
“They didn’t tell you that, did they? Not fair to our farmers!,” his Twitter feed states.
The latest series of tweets by Trump follow posts he made last night — including his accusation that his host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being “indignant.”
In today’s postings, Trump says he is heading to Canada for G7 talks that will mostly centre on the longtime, unfair trade practices aimed at the United States.
“Looking forward to straightening out unfair Trade Deals with the G-7 countries. If it doesn’t happen, we come out even better!,” he states.
Trump’s comments on agriculture, his imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs, as well as broader disagreements on trade, climate change and the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, are setting the stage for some tense G7 talks.
Trudeau addressed the president’s Twitter blasts while visiting Quebec’s Saguenay region on Thursday.
“I’ve been firm, I’ve been clear, but I don’t think descending into insults is right for the way Canada engages with the world,” the prime minister said.
Trudeau said he would continue to stand up for Canadian dairy producers and the country’s supply management system.
Trudeau said he and Trump have disagreed over Trump’s call for Canada to open up its supply management system, which protects dairy, poultry and eggs farmers, during the difficult ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
In the last week, Trump and Trudeau have exchanged tough words over trade after the U.S. imposed hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and Europe. Canada has countered with a plan to impose tariffs of its own on U.S. metals and other consumer goods.
Trudeau has worked hard to find common ground with the unpredictable president, but the personal bond he has tried to forge has been strained.
He has called Trump’s imposition of the tariffs “irresponsible” and “insulting” because the two countries have fought as allies in Second World War, Korea and Afghanistan.
Trudeau and his fellow G7 leaders will try to persuade Trump to reverse the duties when they meet him during the summit.
“We will continue to demonstrate that we’re interested in defending Canadian interests and, on top of that, it turns out I’m defending American interests because these tariffs they’re putting forward are going to hurt American workers as well,” Trudeau said Thursday.
“So, if I can get the president to actually realize that what he’s doing is counterproductive for his own goals as well, then perhaps we can move forward in a smarter way.”
— with files from Associated Press