Political News

Canadians to Trump: Blame Canada, really?

Posted June 11, 2018 12:28 p.m. EDT

— Many Canadians were left reeling as President Donald Trump and his administration took direct aim at their Prime Minister, just hours after the President characterized his relationship with Justin Trudeau and other allies as a "10."

Trump on Saturday accused Trudeau of making "false statements" and said that the US would not endorse a G7 communique. Then Peter Navarro, a trade adviser to the President, escalated the rhetoric -- calling Trudeau "weak and dishonest."

"There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door," Navarro said on "Fox News Sunday."

Officially there was very little response from Canada, as Trudeau declined to react to the public attacks.

One Canadian foreign affairs official involved in US-Canada trade negotiations said, "We are remaining steadfast and calm, we are still waiting to sit down and resolve our differences."

Trudeau's government prides itself on avoiding confrontation, touting what it calls "sunny ways" in diplomacy. Others are not holding back.

On Twitter, Roland Paris, a former adviser to Trudeau, said of Trump: "Big tough guy once he's back on his airplane ... You don't need to be Freud. He's a pathetic little man-child."

'The wrong target'

Others were far more diplomatic but still sided strongly with Trudeau. Even former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was defeated by Trudeau in the last election, told Fox News that he didn't understand the President's obsession with Canada.

"This is the wrong target and, from what I understand of American public opinion, I don't think even Trump supporters think the Canadian trading relationship is a problem," said Harper.

Even Canadians now accustomed to Trump's complaints about Canada were mystified at the harsh comments from his advisers, comments that were clearly condoned by the President himself.

"I am very sad! Mr Trump is not very good to people who are not American. Eventually the people of America will understand how the political tone of America is a big problem to the whole world," Montreal resident Michelle Perel told CNN, adding it must be challenging for Trudeau to manage the relationship with Canada's southern neighbor.

Perhaps the most surprising part about the spat to many Canadians is that they pride themselves in their reputation for friendliness. That fact has left most people baffled by the attacks on their leader.

"We're friendly, we're easy to deal with -- and we're neighbors. As good neighbors, both neighbors should learn to get along and deal with things," said Denis Dubé, on a stroll with his wife in Montreal.

'Trump is a bully'

Canadians are standing by their leader though, and aren't afraid to speak truth to power.

"Trump is a bully and if no one stands up to him, then we are pushovers," said Montreal resident Manny Bastos.

Mark Travis, an American visiting Montreal with family members, told CNN that despite the spat, Canadians are still nice to tourists from the US, but the repercussions will eventually be felt by Americans at home and abroad.

"The strengths that America has are in its partnerships," Travis said. "Ultimately, Americans, possibly, will be hurt."

Trudeau's office said the Prime Minister is taking a day off Monday but will be back in front of cameras Tuesday.

Speaking to CNN, Kevin O'Leary, former Canadian conservative party candidate and TV personality, said Trudeau is in a horrible place right now and clearly didn't see this coming. Most Canadians would appreciate Trudeau standing up to Trump, he said.

"We've got to work this this out. But Trump has been very disruptive this week ... and caused chaos here."