Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Money | By Hannah Jacobs

U.S. Trade Is Trump's Main Focus at G-7 Gathering

In a telephone call on May 25, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked U.S. President Donald Trump how he could possibly consider Canada a threat to America's national security - the ostensible reason for looming tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, pressed about a Washington Post report that the White House was considering additional economic penalties against Canada, told reporters that Ottawa was unaware of any such move. Mr. Trump replied, in reference to the capture of Washington during the War of 1812.

Canadian media outlet CBC News said via Twitter on Wednesday that it was able to confirm CNN's report about the conversation.

"I have no doubt that the United States and Canada will remain firm friends and allies whatever short term disagreements may occur", he said.

During a phone conversation on May 25, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Trump how tariffs against his nation's steel and aluminum could be justified in the name of US national security, as the president claimed.

To legally defend his tariffs using that exception, Trump now has to show that some of the United States' closest allies - including Europe and Canada - really pose a risk to USA national security.

Mr. Trump was notably more muted in his treatment of Mexico and the European Union, even as they announced similar retaliations.

"I know we're going to have some very, very frank conversations quite clearly around the table", Trudeau told Global TV in an interview, adding he would convey Canada's displeasure over the metal tariffs personally when he met Trump in Quebec.

The apparent historical jest comes at a tense time for US-Canada relations.

Mr Trump is "probably the strongest trade reformer of the past 20 years", he said.

During a testy phone call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. president Donald Trump reportedly cited the War of 1812 in order to justify seeing Canada as a security threat. When Canada instead formed a common front with Mexico against Mr. Trump's protectionist demands, the United States was upset, the sources said. While Canada didn't burn down the White House - that dubious honor fell to British forces following a USA invasion of what is today Ontario - it was at least on the side of the British, which is perhaps reason enough for the president to use it as an example to make a point about Canada being a national security threat to US interests. On other occasions, he has accused the country of being "very rough" as it has "taken advantage" of the United States and "outsmarted our politicians for many years". Most famously, the country's first atomic bombs were fuelled in part by Canadian uranium.

"I think it's fair to expect that any discussions on the global the current environment will quickly turn into a discussion about trade", a senior Canadian official said. "The impact on Canada and ultimately on workers in the USA won't be a laughing matter".

Canada has always been a close US ally. "This is an unusual step", he said.

British forces did set fire to the presidential residence during the War of 1812 with the US.

On August 24, 1814, British forces from Canada, which at the time was a colony of Great Britain, torched the White House in response to an American attack on Ontario. The raid, made in revenge for the American burning of York - present-day Toronto - the previous year, saw the British briefly capture and set fire to the US capital.

The "world trade system is a mess", Mr. Trump's top economic adviser, Lawrence Kudlow, said on Wednesday. But after rebelling against the British, the United States was suddenly on its own, as it faced trade restrictions by both the British and the French who were fighting each other in the Napoleonic wars at the time.

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