Trump hints at possible trade action against Canada, other NATO countries
TORONTO -- Following a frosty couple days, U.S. President Donald Trump has once again hinted at a possible trade spat with Canada and other NATO countries that he believes aren’t “putting up their money” on defence spending.
Trump spoke in Washington, D.C. on Thursday in front of representatives ofthe United Nations Security Council and said he had a productive meeting with the leaders of the nine countries who already spend two per cent of their gross domestic product on defence.
“Some (countries are) really not close and we may have to do something with trade,” he said at the meeting. “It’s not fair that they get U.S. protection. They’re not putting up their money.”
In 2014, all 29 NATO countries agreed to increase defence spending to two per cent of their GDP. Canada currently spends just 1.31 per cent of its GDP on defence and does not have a timetable to reach the two per cent milestone, though the government intends to reach 1.4 per cent by the 2024-2025 fiscal year.
On Dec. 3, Trudeau and Trump met in London at the NATO summit, where Trump called Canada “slightly delinquent” on defence spending and when pressed on the matter, Trudeau first said he was committed to spending more and then told Trump that Canada was at 1.4 per cent.
This exchange began a tense few days between the two as Trudeau was later caught on camera talking about Trump to French President Emmanuel Macron, among other world leaders.
Trump went to call Trudeau “two-faced” the next day. His son Donald Trump Jr. also weighed into the matter, tweeting an image of Trudeau in blackface while agreeing with his father that Trudeau is “two-faced.”
Speaking on CTV’s Power Play on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland sidestepped a question about whether the exposed conversation had hurt relations between Canada and the U.S.
“We did have some difficult conversations along the way, but have developed a really effective working relationship,” she said. “I think we would agree that the current U.S. administration (and) the current government of Canada disagree about a lot of things and we’re candid with each other about that.”
With files from The Canadian Press