Politics

Brian Mulroney predicts 'significant record of achievement' for president-elect Trump

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is making a bold prediction: Donald Trump will have a "very significant record of achievement' as president of the United States — and a Trump-Trudeau friendship will only mean good things for Canada.

Former prime minister praises 'very solid citizen' Trump, looks ahead to Trump-Trudeau friendship

The former prime minister talks Trump, Trudeau, and the next Conservative Party leader. 11:00

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney foresees sunny ways ahead for Canada–U.S. relations once president-elect Donald Trump takes office next month. 

"There's movement going on between Canada and the United States at the moment, led by the prime minister, and I think it's all positive," Canada's 18th prime minister told Rosemary Barton in an interview Tuesday on CBC News Network's Power & Politics. 

Mulroney, who has known Trump for 25 years and has a home in the same Palm Beach, Fla. neighbourhood, added the "feedback" on Justin Trudeau's post-election phone call to Trump "was positive."

That's all setting the stage for what Mulroney believes could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Trudeau and Trump.

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke by phone on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Trudeau's office said the prime minister invited Trump to visit Canada. (Associated Press/Canadian Press)

"Donald is, in many ways, a happy-go-lucky guy," he said. "Pretty extravagant in his approaches and declarations, but Justin Trudeau, whom I've known since he was two, has his own charm about him. I think he and Donald can strike up a very good friendship."

One word of caution, though: "Donald will always want to be the dominant player, but the president of the United States is usually anyway," Mulroney added.

Trump a 'very solid citizen'

Despite global uncertainty over what a Trump administration might mean for international stability, Mulroney has high hopes for what the incoming 45th president may accomplish. 

"I would not be surprised if indeed Trump surprised everybody and turned out to be a very important president of the United States, with a significant record of achievement," he said, calling Trump "a very solid citizen" with "quite an agenda."

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney participates in a toast with his wife Mila and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a ceremony after receiving the insignia of Commander of the National Order of the Legion of Honour from the Embassy of France on Tuesday in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

But when pressed on whether that agenda, which includes polarizing promises on immigration, health care and climate action, aligns with Canadian values, Mulroney didn't hedge.

"It's his country. I don't see anything in the thrust of their policies alien to our interests," he said.

'No problems with us' on NAFTA

As for any possibility of Trump ripping up the North American Free Trade Agreement, an oft-repeated promise on the campaign trail, Mulroney doesn't think that will happen.

"Our trade between Canada and the United States is a perfect model," he said. "They have no problems with us. I think they're talking mostly about Mexico.

"It has less to do with trade than it has to do with immigration and drugs and building the wall, that kind of stuff," said Mulroney, who negotiated the original trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico in the 1990s.

Conservative leadership race

The former Progressive Conservative prime minister also weighed in on the Conservative Party's search for its next leader as 14 hopefuls faced off in the second official debate Tuesday evening.

"I think the candidates are fighting for attention," he said. "It's not easy to get traction in this kind of race."

But as candidates' rhetoric heats up over questions of immigration and Canadian identity, Mulroney made a pointed comment on his own views.

"I don't blame anybody for saying what they have to say to get noticed or move ahead. But my government increased immigration ... and we increased the refugees, based on my firm belief that Canada and other democracies only prosper with great waves of immigration.

"Immigrants bring loyalty, conviction, dynamism and hard work to Canada," he said. "They're an important part of our prosperity agenda in many ways. Anything that varies from what I just said should be unacceptable."

The stage prior to the Conservative leadership debate in Saskatoon, Wednesday, November 9, 2016. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

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