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U.S. ambassador 'not aware' of any plans for Trudeau-Trump meeting

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Canada’s Ambassador to the United States says she’s “not aware” of any plans for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with former U.S. president and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump before the November American election.

“I think that's a question for the prime minister,” Kirsten Hillman told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, in an interview airing Sunday. “I'm not aware of any plans in that regard.”

The question to Hillman about the prime minister’s plans to meet with Trump — while the former is in Philadelphia this week to deliver a speech to one of the biggest unions in North America — comes on the heels of a visit to the U.S. by Polish President Andrzej Duda, during which he met with the former president.

Prime Minister’s Office spokesperson Mohammad Hussain said there is no meeting scheduled between Trudeau and Trump during the prime minister’s visit this week.

But Hussain would not comment on any potential meetings beyond that, ahead of the U.S. election.

Hillman said in addition to Trudeau’s speech to the Service Employees International Union convention this week, he also has a “robust business agenda” while he’s in the U.S.

The Trudeau government, meanwhile, has been preparing behind the scenes for a possible second Trump presidency, and the potential economic impacts that could have.

A recent report from Scotiabank on the potential economic impacts for Canada depending on the outcome of the upcoming American election, meanwhile, states a "Trump victory and follow-through on the policy side would likely see higher inflation than what could be expected in a Biden victory," should Trump “implement the more controversial elements of his platform.”

The prime minister’s visit also comes several months after the announcement of a “Team Canada” approach to the U.S. election, including, Hillman said, five premiers and about 14 Canadian federal ministers who have since visited the country, in addition to “a number” of parliamentarians from all parties.

“I think that, one, we're quite happy with the diversity of outreach that is happening across the country,” Hillman said. “We still have some work to do there, and we're mapping this out, other parts of the country we haven't quite gotten into as much as we'd like to yet, we're working on that over the next coming months as to what's evolved.” 

When asked whether the Canadian federal government has reached out to Trump’s current team ahead of the election, Hillman said some of the former president’s current entourage includes familiar faces from his previous administration.

“A lot of them, we know, are actively involved in trying to develop policies that they would put to him, would he be elected,” she said. “So some of them are some of the people that we dealt with during the last administration, some of them are others, but most of them are people well-known to us.”

Hillman said the dialogue extends to other elected officials from Trump’s first presidency, for example members of Congress, and to think tanks across the country.

“I'll be honest, I'm not sure there is an agenda specific to Canada, at least if there is one, it's not been characterized as such,” Hillman said, when asked whether she knows Trump’s plans for Canada. “There's a trade agenda. There's a domestic agenda.”

The ambassador added that Trump’s team, as is the case for most presidential candidates, appears focused on domestic issues, such as economic security and jobs.

“That is actually a huge advantage for Canada, because we have a lot to talk about in that space.”

With files from CTV’s Question Period Senior Producer Stephanie Ha

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