Canada’s former Prime Minister Stephen Harper made plans to visit the White House next week without telling current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nor the Canadian government about it, CTV News reported on Wednesday night. The unannounced visit comes amid an escalating trade spat between the two neighbouring nations, and as President Donald Trump ramps up pejorative rhetoric against Trudeau.
The news outlet said it obtained emails that showed American officials preparing to welcome the former Conservative leader to D.C. on July 2, the day after Canada is set to impose its retaliatory tariffs on U.S. aluminum and steel and other American imports. The emails reportedly do not provide many details, but show a planned meeting between Harper and American National Security Advisor John Bolton, who served at the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. during Harper’s tenure as prime minister.
It is typically customary for a former prime minister to notify the current government about such visits.
The Prime Minister’s Office has not released any statement on the matter.
Lately, Harper has spoken about Canada’s relationship with the U.S. in ways that are sometimes out of step with the current Liberal government. Last October, the Canadian Press reported on a leaked memo from Harper to clients of his consulting firm in which he criticized the Trudeau government’s approach on NAFTA negotiations.
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Earlier this month, though, Harper threw his support behind the Liberals in an interview with Fox News. “This is a more or less balanced relationship and one that’s vitally important to businesses and consumers on both sides of the border, and one that Trump supporters have no problem with,” Harper said at the time.
Relations between Trump and Trudeau have recently taken a downward turn, especially in the wake of the G7 summit in Quebec. After Trump left the summit early for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump tweeted insults at Trudeau in response to comments he made during a press conference at the summit.
And this week, Trump lamented about Trudeau and Canada again at a rally in South Carolina.
“Canada! Nice guy, nice guy, prime minister Justin. I say, ‘Justin, what’s your problem, Justin?’” Trump told the crowd.
Then he delved into matters of trade.
“So, lumber is a disaster, energy is a disaster and I see Justin saying ‘ We fought World War One together. We fought World War Two together,’ that’s true … We love Canada, but Canada is charging almost 300 percent tariffs on dairy products and many other things.”
Cover Image: Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper shakes hands with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau before the start of the Globe and Mail Leaders Debate 2015. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail.)