Paul Martin hails Trudeau approach to U.S.

'The Trudeau government should do exactly what it's doing, which is to look to our needs,' Martin says

Former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin addresses the World Taxpayers Conference after being presented with the "Stop the Clock" award by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in Vancouver, on Saturday May 31, 2014. The CTF said they honoured him for his role in the 1995 federal budget and the balanced budgets that followed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin on Saturday May 31, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

TORONTO – Canada should work to strengthen its ties with China and other countries while ensuring it maintains a good relationship with the United States, former prime minister Paul Martin said Tuesday.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sought to deepen Canada’s ties to China, he’s also building a relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump who has taken an anti-China stance in many of his comments.

“The Trudeau government should do exactly what it’s doing, which is to look to our needs,” Martin said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

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“And our needs require, obviously, that we have good relationships with the United States and, obviously, that we should establish sound relations with other countries – including China.”

Martin said pension reform is one of the areas where Canada and China have common interests, because each faces the challenge of a retirement population that’s growing faster than its workforce.

“We have an aging population and we, obviously as a country, have to deal with it,” he said.

Canada and China will each have only about 2.5 workers per retiree by 2046 – compared with Canada’s current ratio of four-to-one and China’s ratio of about seven-to-one as of 2016, according to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

Martin made his comments following the official launch of a Chinese-language edition of “Fixing The Future,” a 380-page book about the creation of the CPPIB in 1997 while he was federal finance minister.

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The CPPIB’s fund has since grown to nearly $300 billion – making it the biggest retirement fund in Canada – although it shares the world stage with retirement funds managed by Quebec’s Caisse de depot and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

Martin said the CPPIB’s collaboration with China’s pension reform efforts is the “kind of thing we should be doing.”

“At the same time,” he added, “we should be establishing the best relationship we can with our largest trading partner, which is the United States.”

Asked if he had advice for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Martin replied: “I think the prime minister is doing very well.”