OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is shooting back at Donald Trump’s anti-Canadian trade rhetoric saying she will be “tough and strong” in fighting for Canada’s economic interests with the U.S.
Freeland also says she is optimistic a new softwood lumber deal can reached, and that it will be a win for Canada and the United States.
Freeland says she has had discussions with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in recent days and some progress has been made, but there’s no sign of a deal yet.
Trump has criticized Canada’s lumber and dairy policies, saying the latter is a “disgrace” that is hurting U.S. dairy farmers.
Ross has said that lumber and dairy have erupted as irritants because they are not properly addressed in the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has threatened to scrap if it can’t be renegotiated.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he told Trump in a Tuesday phone call that the U.S. commerce department levelled “baseless allegations” when it imposed new, unfair duties on Canadian softwood this week.
“It’s good to treat people with respect,” Freeland said today in a conference call from Berlin, where she was attending G20 meetings.
“Having said that, I want to assure you, and I want to assure Canadians that I am absolutely firm and absolutely tough and strong.”
Freeland says the U.S. is dependent on Canadian softwood because its own industry can’t meet its domestic demand.
“Lumber prices are high right now, and the reality is the United States needs our lumber,” she said. “Middle class Americans who want to buy a house need Canadian lumber to do that.”