SEVERE WX : Fire Weather Watch View Alerts

Trudeau says Trump's wrong, tariffs had no effect on NAFTA negotiations

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says US tariffs weren't the reason he was willing to agree to a new t...

Posted: Nov 6, 2018 12:24 PM
Updated: Nov 6, 2018 12:24 PM

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says US tariffs weren't the reason he was willing to agree to a new trade deal earlier this year-- dismissing President Donald Trump's argument that the duties on Canadian goods forced his hand.

"On the contrary, we have been open from the very beginning to negotiate a new and modernized NAFTA," Trudeau said Monday in a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with CNN's Poppy Harlow.

Business, economy and trade

Canada

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Economic policy

Economy and economic indicators

Free trade treaties and agreements

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

International relations

International relations and national security

International trade

International trade law

Justin Trudeau

Latin America

Mexico

North America

Political Figures - Intl

Political Figures - US

Politics

Tariffs and customs

The Americas

Trade and development

Trade regulation and policy

Trade treaties and agreements

Treaties and agreements

US federal government

White House

Business and industry sectors

Manufacturing and engineering

Metal manufacturing

Steel products

Misc people

Poppy Harlow

United States

"We were always willing to come to the table, to sit down and negotiate. And we have," he said.

Trump claimed in October that he was able to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico thanks to his hard-nosed tactics, including a willingness to impose new tariffs.

"Without tariffs, we wouldn't be talking about a deal," Trump said. He then mocked politicians opposed to tariffs as "babies."

Trump imposed tariffs earlier this year on steel and aluminum imports coming from around the world, including from allies like Canada and Mexico. He also threatened to impose new tariffs on autos, and has levied taxes on $250 billion of Chinese goods as his administration continues to talk with China about a new bilateral trade deal.

Trump and Trudeau have had a rocky relationship over trade. In June, the 46-year-old Canadian prime minister said after hosting the G7 summit in Quebec that he would be willing to retaliate over the metal tariffs -- which he then did. "Canadians, we're polite, we're reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around," Trudeau said.

His comments drew immediate fire from top Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who told CNN at the time that Trudeau "kind of stabbed us in the back."

But in his interview Monday, on the eve of the US midterm elections, Trudeau stepped carefully around questions about his relationship with Trump, who personally called him "dishonest and weak" in a tweet over the retaliatory tariffs.

Both Canada and Mexico have responded to Trump's tariffs by levying taxes on US goods including yogurt, cheese, pork, maple syrup and bourbon.

"In politics, you get called a lot of things by a lot of different people," Trudeau said Monday, when asked directly about Trump's personal attacks.

He added: "I have a good, constructive working relationship with the President, which is what Canadians expect me to have. But the connections between Canada and the US run so deep and so broad that the relationship is going to be fine regardless of who's at the top on either side."

Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum and Canada's and Mexico's retaliatory tariffs remain in place. A Mexican official has suggested they won't sign the new agreement until Trump lifts the duties. All three parties are due to sign it at the end of November, before a new Mexican president comes into office.

Trudeau said he wouldn't yet back out of the NAFTA replacement, which Trump has called the US-Canada-Mexico Agreement, or USCMA.

"We're not at the point of saying that we wouldn't sign if it wasn't lifted -- although we're trying to make that case," Trudeau said. He added: "We would much rather have genuine free trade with the United States so we're gonna continue to work, as soon as we can, to lift those tariffs."

In his conversation with Harlow, Trudeau repeatedly underscored his political and philosophical differences with Trump.

Harlow asked Trudeau about his father, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, teaching him to trust people and followed up by asking if the Canadian leader trusts Trump. Trudeau sidestepped the question.

"What my father taught me was to trust Canadians," Trudeau said. "It was a way of looking at the electorate, of saying, you don't have to dumb it down for them, you don't have to scare them into this and that, you can actually treat people like intelligent, rational actors and they will rise to the occasion," Trudeau said.

Asked about the importance of a free press, which Trump often calls "the enemy of the people," Trudeau said "I have been unequivocal, repeatedly, that a free press is fundamental to any democracy around the world, any free society. You have to have an informed populace ... and politicians [who] are being held to account from media."

And as the US charges toward the finish line of a divisive and often ugly midterm election marked by attempted political violence and nakedly racist ads promoted by a President who emphasized themes of fear, Trudeau spoke of the importance of finding common ground.

"I think it's always been easier in politics to divide people or to scare people than to bring them together," Trudeau said. "I've chosen to try and bring people together, to try and look for those common grounds."

But he acknowledged that polarization is a problem in Canada, too.

"The polarization we see in Canada and around the world -- people who don't listen to each other anymore, people who are so sure that they are right that they won't listen to anyone who disagrees and won't -- will even dehumanize people who disagree with them," Trudeau told Harlow. "The demonization of political opponents is something that is fundamentally counter to the idea that diversity of opinions, of perspectives, of backgrounds, should be a source of strength and resilience."

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 292560

Reported Deaths: 6718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1232563643
Riverside21957515
Orange20225376
San Diego17842406
San Bernardino16586293
Imperial7464125
Fresno728184
Alameda7245142
San Joaquin581761
Kern575987
Santa Clara5552165
Tulare5298148
Sacramento477678
Contra Costa424186
San Francisco407150
Ventura385850
Santa Barbara380830
San Mateo3743111
Marin323226
Stanislaus300450
Kings282338
Monterey227017
Solano192227
Merced162311
Sonoma148714
Placer97011
Madera8578
San Luis Obispo8453
Yolo76028
Santa Cruz5033
Napa4534
Sutter3234
San Benito3042
Butte2954
El Dorado2800
Lassen2670
Shasta1715
Humboldt1574
Nevada1551
Yuba1543
Glenn1530
Lake1001
Colusa980
Mendocino980
Tehama981
Calaveras610
Del Norte580
Tuolumne580
Mono491
Amador350
Inyo341
Siskiyou330
Mariposa311
Plumas150
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 97° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 90°
Oroville
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 100° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 89°
Paradise
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 90°
Chester
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 73°
Red Bluff
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 100° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 88°
Willows
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 101° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 90°
The heat continues to rise around northern California as we progress through the week, and no real relief from this current heat wave is in sight.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events