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Frank McKenna Says Trump’s Treatment of Trudeau Is ‘Appalling’

Former premier Frank McKenna and Premier Brian Gallant. Image: Mark Leger/Huddle.

SAINT JOHN – Frank McKenna, former premier and Canadian ambassador to the United States, said President Donald Trump’s treatment of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was “appalling” and “outrageous.”

“The treatment of the president toward our prime minister was appalling,” said McKenna, who was in Saint John Monday for a job announcement at TD Insurance.

“It was undiplomatic, it was distasteful in the extreme. Very unhelpful and it cast a cloud over the entire G7 where so much good work had been done. I think all Canadians have unified behind the prime minister, from all political persuasions because they know an attack on him is an attack on all of Canada.”

After he left the G7 summit in Quebec on Saturday, Trump posted a series of Tweets criticizing Trudeau for staying firm on the counter-tariffs imposed in reaction to U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

Trump called Trudeau “dishonest and weak” in very personal attacks on Twitter.

McKenna commended Trudeau for refraining from personal attacks on the president and sticking to the substance of the trade disagreement. He also praised the opposition parties for backing the prime minister on this particular issue.

“Canada has been restrained throughout in dealing with a temperamental president and I think all the way through we’ve avoided rising to provocation and tried to deal with the facts,” said McKenna.

“I’m very proud of how, not only of our government but also opposition parties and premiers, business communities and civil society have all piled in on the same side in trying to negotiate a very difficult situation. The government’s response to this outrageous provocation by the president was appropriate and that was not to retaliate in a personal way but to simply state the facts.”

Premier Gallant said the prime minister has taken the right approach standing up to Trump on his increasingly tough stance on trade with Canada.

“We absolutely support the actions taken by the federal government and Prime Minister Trudeau to make it clear to our partners in the United States that we’re not just going to sit here and allow these types of unfair, unwarranted and potentially even illegal tariffs on some of the products we’re sending into the American market,” said Gallant to reporters after the TD announcement in Saint John.

Gallant says he remains hopeful that the trade issues can be resolved to the benefit of both countries. But he acknowledges that Trump might not realize he’s jeopardizing U.S. jobs by triggering a series of tariffs and counter-tariffs with Canada.

“I’m still optimistic, relatively speaking, and only because the facts are on our side. When it comes to trade the U.S. needs Canada and Canada needs the U.S. Our economies are integrated,” said Gallant.

“We have states that depend on Canada as their largest export market – over 30 states in fact. Many of our provinces, if not all of them, have the U.S. as the number one export destination…Nine-million jobs in the U.S. are directly linked with trade with our country. That means [those jobs] are at stake if we start to close up the border between Canada and the U.S. But I do acknowledge President Trump doesn’t always let facts get in the way.”

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