The Canadian ambassador to the US thought he was being pranked when President Donald Trump sent Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a note jokingly saying he hoped Trudeau wasn’t “the anti-Trump,” the news website Axios reported on Sunday.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Axios said that when Bloomberg Businessweek featured Trudeau on its May 2017 cover naming him “the anti-Trump,” Trump ripped the cover off the magazine, wrote something like “Looking good! Hope it’s not true!” in silver Sharpie, and sent it to the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC.
While Trump intended for the note to be a light-hearted joke, the Canadian ambassador initially thought someone was pranking the embassy and reached out to the White House to confirm it was real, sources told Axios.
One source told the outlet that while some White House staff members suggested that the annotated cover wasn’t the right way to correspond with a fellow world leader, they eventually thought that “it was done in good fun and would be interpreted as positive outreach.”
Axios reported that Trump and Trudeau had exchanged multiple handwritten notes – at least two written in Trump’s trademark Sharpie – on the US-Canada trade relationship and other topics.
The once amicable and calm US-Canada relationship was upended after Trump took office and attacked Canada’s trade policies, enacted tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel, and insisted on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.
In December 2017, Trump sent Trudeau a note lamenting the goods-trade deficit between the US and Canada, writing something like “Not good!” in Sharpie, a source told Axios.
In response, Trudeau sent Trump documents from the Office of the US Trade Representative showing that the US had a $12.5 billion overall trade surplus with Canada in 2016, sources told Axios.
A Canadian official told Axios that “it is certainly true that there were disagreements between our 2 countries about the figures, and we repeatedly pointed to USTR and U.S. Commerce’s own figures.” The official did not deny that Trump sent Trudeau the Bloomberg cover.