Report

Canadian Foreign Minister Sharply Rebukes Trump’s Trade Policy and Worldview

Chrystia Freeland said Trump was putting his thumb on the scales with tariffs.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks at Foreign Policy's Diplomat of the Year awards ceremony in Washington on June 13.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks at Foreign Policy's Diplomat of the Year awards ceremony in Washington on June 13.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, in Washington on Wednesday, promised a “dollar-for-dollar response” to President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs and said American businesses and consumers would pay a price for their country’s protectionism.

Her comments, coming just a week after a divisive meeting of the leading industrialized democracies known as the G-7, marked one the sharpest Canadian rebukes of the United States in recent memory.

Freeland described Trump’s plan to slap tariffs on Canada under the pretext of national security as ridiculous and urged the United States to invest in its international alliances.

“The idea that we could impose a national security threat to you is more than absurd, it’s hurtful,” she said at an event hosted by Foreign Policy, where she accepted the news magazine’s Diplomat of the Year award.

She said the tariffs were “a naked example of the United States putting its thumb on the scale in violation of the very rules it helped to write.”

“The price will be paid in part by American consumers and American businesses.”

Trump announced aluminum and steel tariffs on Canada, Mexico, and the European Union last month, justifying them under a provision of trade law that allows protectionist measures on national security grounds.

At the G-7 summit in Quebec last week, what should have been a standard meeting between close allies turned acrimonious when Trump and his top deputies launched a slew of personal attacks on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau said he was preparing retaliatory measures against the United States.

Freeland urged the United States to preserve its global alliance of liberal democracies.

“You may feel today that your size allows you to go mano a mano with your traditional adversaries and be guaranteed to win. But if history tells us one thing, it’s that no one nation’s preeminence is eternal,” she said.

The feud between the United States and Canada, normally close allies, is unprecedented in modern times. During her award acceptance speech on Wednesday, Freeland showed Canada would not fold.

Freeland also warned that authoritarianism was on the rise and Canada and its allies would have to step up to preserve liberal democracy around the world.

She didn’t name Trump in her speech, but left little room for interpretation. “Facts matter. Truth matters. Competence and honesty among elected leaders and in our public service matter,” she said.

“Canada, for one, is going to stand up in defense of that system. We will not escalate, and we will not back down.”

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. @robbiegramer

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