No apology from PM Trudeau after U.S. President Trump calls him 'two-faced'
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not apologize after U.S. President Donald Trump called him "two-faced" in the wake of a video of the PM apparently speaking candidly to other world leaders about the president.
"Last night, I made a reference to the fact that there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with President Trump and I was happy to take part of it, but it was certainly notable," PM Trudeau said on Wednesday.
When reporters pressed Trudeau on the issue, he neither apologized nor confirmed whether he had yet spoken to Trump about the video and its fallout. Instead, Trudeau explained that the remarks caught on camera were simply informing other foreign leaders that Trump had announced the location of the next G7 meeting, Camp David, during an unscheduled press conference.
"I think we recognize that there [is], as we talk to G7 leaders, an interest in where the next G7 meeting is going to be and I was pleased to share with them the story of how that came about, that we are going to be gathering, apparently, in Camp David in the coming year for the G7 meeting," said Trudeau.
Trump did not appear to view the videotaped conversation the same way.
"Well he's two-faced," the president said on Wednesday, when asked about the conversation in which Trudeau seemed to make reference to the president’s lengthy, unplanned media availability the day before.
Trump went on to speculate about Trudeau's motivation for engaging in the gossip – namely, Canada's failure to meet the recommended defence spending target of 2 per cent of gross domestic product.
"Trudeau, he's a nice guy. I find him to be a nice guy, but the truth is, I called him out on the fact that he's not paying 2 per cent, and I guess he's not very happy about it. I mean, you were there. A couple of you were there," Trump told reporters.
"He should be paying more than he's paying. And he understands it. So I can imagine he's not that happy. But that's the way it is."
After making the comments, Trump was recorded talking about them when he appeared to believe he wasn't on the record. According to CTV's Richard Madan, Trump's audio was picked up on a hot microphone belonging to a radio reporter who was travelling with the president.
"That was funny when I said they guy's two-faced," said Trump in the recording.
In Trudeau's own candid video, the prime minister was speaking to French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Princess Anne, daughter of the Queen.
The video, which was shot during a reception at Buckingham Palace late Tuesday, shows Johnson asking Macron why he was late. In response, Trudeau quips, "he was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top."
Though the president is never mentioned by name, Trump had taken multiple questions from journalists during an unscheduled news conference ahead of meetings with Trudeau, Macron, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Trudeau went on to say, without a clear context, that "You just watched his team's jaws drop to the floor."
In his press conference Wednesday, Trudeau explained this part of the conversation as having been a reference to the reaction political staff have to unscheduled announcements.
"I think that was an unscheduled announcement, and I think everyone's team – every different leader has teams who every now and then have their jaws drop at unscheduled surprises, like that video itself, for example," Trudeau joked.
Despite Trudeau's levity when pressed on the viral video, the initial gossiping and Trump's fiery reaction comes as Canada and the U.S. are working to finalize a trade deal – something that could be impacted by a change in diplomatic relations. Still, Trudeau insisted there is no problem in his relationship with Trump.
"I think people know that the relationship between Canada and the United States is deep and goes far beyond the relationship between prime minister and the president, although I will say, as you know all know, we have a very good and constructive relationship between me and the president," said Trudeau.
The gossiping and name-calling does come in stark contrast to the mood between the two world leaders yesterday, when Trump said of Trudeau that it was "an honour to be with a friend," and touted their "very good relationship."
The prime minister echoed Trump's sentiments yesterday, saying the relationship between Canada and the United States is "is incredibly strong, I don't think it's ever been stronger."
POLITICAL REACTION ROLLS IN
As party leaders descend on Ottawa ahead of the Parliament's return tomorrow, the political reaction to Trudeau's gossip session began to pour in.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh seemed to echo Trump’s labelling of Trudeau as two-faced.
"What I've said often about Mr. Trudeau is that he certainly says some things in public and then says things very differently in private," said Singh.
Singh added that, while he doesn't mind Trudeau criticizing Trump, he does mind the content of that criticism.
"I'm concerned in the sense that there are many things to criticize Mr. Trump on, but making the prime minister late to a cocktail party is not one," said Singh.
Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet also weighed in on the issue. During a media availability outside the room where his caucus was meeting on Parliament Hill Wednesday, he said Trudeau's "apparent lack of respect" for Trump "is shopping for some more troubles" with Canada's neighbours to the south.
More political reaction is expected to roll in throughout the day.
With files from CTV’s Rachel Aiello and CTV’s Richard Madan