Trudeau slams 'insulting' tariffs against Canada in U.S. TV interview

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke Sunday on U.S. networks about the message Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs send one of America's closest allies.

PM, foreign affairs minister spoke on U.S. networks Sunday morning

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks with U.S. President Donald Trump in October 2017. Trudeau says it's 'insulting and unacceptable' that the U.S. has slapped tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum citing security concerns. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the U.S. administration's decision to place tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel citing national security issues is an insult. 

Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, Trudeau admitted he's struggling to come to terms with President Donald Trump's use of Section 232 to slap 25 per cent duties on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum. 

"The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable."

Trudeau said he has no idea what Trump wants from Canada, and that a year ago the president told him it would be a poor decision to include Canada in any action under Section 232's national security rationale. 

Tariffs will hurt jobs and prosperity on both sides of the border, he added — and he wants Americans to understand that. 

In response to the duties, which came into effect on June 1, Canada responded with matching dollar-for-dollar measures. 

From pizza and quiche to strawberry jam, ketchup and mustard, the Canadian tariff target list totals $16.6 billion. 

Canada not going to be 'pushed around'

Those retaliatory measures won't be official until July, but Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has said the duties are meant to encourage the U.S. to back down. 

She was incredulous as she spoke on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday morning.

"Seriously? Do you really believe that Canada, that your NATO allies, represent a national security threat to you?" she asked. 

"Please think hard about the message you're sending to your closest allies."

Chrystia Freeland told CBC Radio's The House the government will support Canadian metal workers from the fallout of U.S. tariffs. 1:37

As tariff battles commence and a new NAFTA deal has yet to take shape, Canada's limits as the kind neighbour are being tested, the prime minister said.

"We step up when we need to. We're going to be polite, but we're also not going to be pushed around," Trudeau said. 

"I think our approach has been consistent all the way through."

Trump's economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, responded Sunday, saying he thinks Trudeau is "overreacting." Kudlow added that he sees trade frictions between the two countries as "more of a family quarrel."


 
"I don't think our tariffs are anything to do with our friendship and our longstanding alliance with Canada," Kudlow said on the Fox News Sunday program.

"This is a trade dispute, if you will. It can be solved if people work together," he said.

Trump is expected to attend the G7 summit in Quebec this week. 

Washington says it will hit Canada with tariffs on steel and aluminum. In response, Ottawa is retaliating with a long list of surtaxes on U.S. imports. 6:00

With files from Reuters