America's neighbor to the north has long been one its greatest allies on all fronts. Now, though, President Trump's moves to start a trade war with Canada have led its prime minister, Justin Trudeau, to make some strong statements about the direction in which American policy is headed. Trudeau's comments about America illustrate the effect Trump's decisions are having on the country's relationships across the globe.
According to The Hill, Trump's Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced on Thursday that the U.S. would now begin imposing heavy tariffs on Mexican, European, and Canadian aluminum and steel imports. This drew quick reactions from Mexico and the E.U., and then Canada as well. On NBC's Meet the Press, Trudeau made it very clear that he did not take to the announcement kindly.
“The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable," Trudeau said on the show.
According to the White House press release on the subject, Trump imposed the tariffs based on a law that makes it legal to do so for countries that pose a national security threat, and the administration included its allies — Mexico, the European Union, and Canada — in that group.
During the same interview, Trudeau explained that Trump's actions would inspire Canada to respond in kind.
"We're putting the same kinds of tariffs exactly on steel and aluminum coming from the United States into Canada to be directly reciprocal," Trudeau said on Meet the Press. "But we're also putting a number of tariffs on consumer goods, finished products for which Canadians have easy alternatives."
Trudeau also made it clear that he did not believe that Trump's tariffs would have a positive outcome for either side involved. "One of the truths about tariffs is they drive up costs for consumers. And on top of that, these tariffs are going to be hurting American workers and Canadian workers," Trudeau said.
The fact that the Trump administration relied on a law citing national security as a concern was something that Trudeau focused on in particular. Two nations that have fought together in numerous wars, according to Trudeau, can hardly represent national security threats to each other.
“The idea that our soldiers who had fought and died together on the beaches of World War II, on the mountains of Afghanistan and have stood shoulder-to-shoulder in some of the most difficult places in the world, that are always there for each other, this is insulting to that,” Trudeau said on Meet the Press.
According to The Atlantic, while giving a press conference on the same subject, Trudeau was careful to draw a line between Trump's policies and the American people — which, the magazine stressed, was similar to the way that American presidents in the past have referred to people living in countries with undemocratic regimes.
"Americans remain our partners, friends, and allies. This is not about the American people. We have to believe that at some point their common sense will prevail,” Trudeau said. “But we see no sign of that in this action today by the U.S. administration.”
Trump has responded by repeatedly claiming that Canada has been treating the U.S. unfairly on trade, and that the new tariffs are thus warranted. "Canada has treated our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long period of time," Trump wrote in a tweet on Friday. "Highly restrictive on Trade! They must open their markets and take down their trade barriers! They report a really high surplus on trade with us. Do Timber & Lumber in U.S.?"
According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the U.S. actually has a significant trade surplus with Canada. No one knows how a Trump-sparked trade war would play out, but perhaps the false statement in his tweet could end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.