Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said signing the trilateral USMCA trade pact is not contingent on the ongoing steel and aluminum tariffs being lifted.
In an interview with CNN, Trudeau said that, while backroom conversations are still underway to see the tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum lifted, Canada doesn’t see it as a must-have condition.
“We’re not at the point of saying that we wouldn’t sign if it wasn’t if it wasn’t lifted, although we’re trying to make that case,” Trudeau said.
In the spring, amid NAFTA renegotiations, the U.S. announced the imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, citing national security as a justification, and shortly after Canada announced its own dollar-for-dollar retaliatory tariffs on American-made steel, aluminum, and other goods.
In the interview broadcast on Tuesday, Trudeau called the tariffs a “continued frustration” that are hurting consumers and businesses on both sides of the border.
“We’re going to continue to make our arguments based on facts not based on emotions or insults,” Trudeau said. He also denied that the tariffs had an impact on the outcome of the trade talks between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
Both opposition parties in Canada continue to press the Liberals to get these tariffs lifted as soon as possible, as the federal government continues to tout the interim support it’s offering the impacted industries.
Does he trust Trump?
Trudeau was asked whether or not he trusts U.S. President Donald Trump to honour the new deal, to which he said he said every leader has to stick up for their country in their own way.
“I respect the fact that people have different approaches to it. My approach is to trust Canadians and deal in a way that is direct with other leaders.”
Pivoting, Trudeau said the lesson his father Pierre Trudeau taught him, was to trust Canadians.
“It was a way of looking at the electorate as saying you don’t have to dumb it down for them, you don’t have to scare them into this or that, you can actually treat people like intelligent, rational actors and they will rise to the occasion,” Trudeau said, adding that it’s been his approach throughout his political career.
Weighs in on midterms, migrants
Trudeau also weighed in on the midterm elections happening south of the border, saying he’ll work with whatever Congress is elected.
“Americans will make the choice that they need to make that they choose to make… My job is to stand up for Canada and to defend Canadian interests and to have a constructive working relationship with whoever is elected in the United States,” Trudeau said.
Asked to comment on the politics surrounding the caravan of migrants making their way from Central America to the United States, Trudeau deferred saying he think it’s “important that people outside our borders not weigh in on our own decisions,” and so he wouldn’t do so in this instance.
Thinks he’s allayed fears
Trudeau also said that, when it comes to countries moving to the right of the political spectrum, there are people who come forward with “really easy sounding answers,” to respond to people’s anxieties about their futures, though in many cases he doesn’t think those answers are the right ones.
“What we’ve done here in Canada is set forward some more complex but very effective answers that do bring people together… We have worked on not augmenting those fears, but allaying those fears and it’s working in Canada,” Trudeau said.