Published On: Mon, Jun 11th, 2018

It’s Trump, not Trudeau, who is dishonest and betraying America’s friends

But the reality is that every one of them applies not to Trudeau but to Trump himself.

This meeting was doomed from the start, given that Trump chose to impose stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum on Canada and the European Union on the eve of the annual summit. And then topped that off as soon as he landed in Quebec with an out-of-nowhere call for Russia to be readmitted to the group.

He sulked his way through the first part of the meeting, gave his delegation the OK to sign the summit’s pallid final communique, then threw a hissy fit and tore it up as soon as he was back on Air Force One.

Trump either didn’t know that or didn’t want to know. He chose to make up his own facts and mix them in with gratuitous insults aimed at the United States’ closest and most dependable allies.

His manoeuvre also showed bad faith. His chief economic adviser, Lawrence Kudlow, let the cat out of the bag when he made it clear that Trump was lashing out at Trudeau not because of anything the prime minister said or did, but because he didn’t want to look weak on the eve of his meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

The president, said Kudlow, “won’t let a Canadian prime minister push him around. He is not going to permit any show of weakness on a trip to negotiate with North Korea.” In other words, this is a lot of chest-thumping to impress on Kim that the president is one tough dude.

If that’s the case, it amounts to a betrayal of the staunchest U.S. allies. What conclusion are the North Koreans likely to draw from seeing Trump throw his friends under the bus and essentially threaten to destroy the western alliance that has kept the peace for 70 years?

The most obvious lesson is that Trump can’t be trusted from one moment to the next — and in that they will be quite right.

Canada, the rest of the G7, and other countries that consider themselves friends of the United States have no choice but to take Trump’s threats seriously, however.

In particular, his remark about imposing new tariffs on Canadian-made vehicles potentially strikes at the heart of Canada’s industrial economy.

Trudeau said nothing particularly new or provocative at the G7, and Trump’s reaction was wildly over the top. But at this point Canada has no option but to make clear that it won’t roll over in the face of the president’s bully-boy rhetoric.

Other Canadian leaders are right to back the prime minister. Relations with the United States are always vital to Canada’s national interest, and this goes beyond party politics.

In that regard, it’s good to see Conservatives such as former prime minister Stephen Harper, Alberta Conservative leader Jason Kenney, and Doug Ford in Ontario line up to back Trudeau in this confrontation with Trump. This is no time to score cheap political points.

At some point, reality is bound to reassert itself. Countless Americans are appalled to see Trump so casually trash their traditional friends and undermine alliances that have served the United States well over many decades.

But in the meantime, this rogue president is wreaking a lot of damage and threatens to do even more before he’s finished. Canada and its allies must stand firm; by now it’s all too clear that making nice with the bully just invites more abuse.

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TORONTO STAR

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It’s Trump, not Trudeau, who is dishonest and betraying America’s friends