Trudeau says Canada 'well positioned' to weather Brexit storm amid market jitters

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Canadians waking up to jittery markets Friday that the country's economy is in a good position to weather the storm in the wake of Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

PM thanks David Cameron after British PM says he will step down by October

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will continue to work with Britain and the European Union following the results of a divisive Brexit referendum vote. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Canadians waking up to jittery markets Friday that Canada's economy is in a good position to weather the storm in the wake of Britain's vote to leave the European Union. 

"The country's economy is strong, diversified and resilient. While last night's vote will undoubtedly increase the global economic uncertainty, Canadians can be reassured that we are monitoring the situation closely and that we will work with our partners across the world to maintain stability and create economic growth," Trudeau said in French in Quebec City.

The prime minister was in his home province to celebrate Quebec's official holiday, known as Fête Nationale.

Trudeau said he had spoken Friday morning with Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, who were in contact with their G7 counterparts.

"They are monitoring world markets knowing that Canada's financial system remains strong and stable," Trudeau said after the Canadian dollar lost more than a cent against the U.S. dollar in reaction to Britons' vote to exit the European Union.

Trudeau said Canada shares deep historical ties and common values with the U.K. and the EU, and will continue to work with both.

"We respect the choice of the British people and will remain a strong partner of the UK and the European Union," the prime minister eliciting some boos from the crowd.

Some in Quebec have welcomed the British result as good news for Quebec's independence movement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke briefly about Brexit at an event in Quebec City on St Jean Baptiste Day He spoke first in French but was booed when he spoke a few sentences in English 0:23

To the surprise of many, British Prime Minister David Cameron didn't wait long before announcing he would step down by the fall.

In a written statement issued earlier in the day, Trudeau gave Cameron a nod.

"On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to thank him for being such a close ally and good friend to our country. We wish him well."

Morneau issued a similar statement after speaking with G7 finance ministers and central bank governors.

"While some market and economic volatility can be expected, the Canadian economy is well placed and our financial institutions are well funded. Global markets are resilient and orderly, and we will continue to monitor developments in the world economy," Canada's finance minister said.

Ratifying Canada-EU trade deal

The fate of the Canada and European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement weighed prominently on the mind of ministers in Trudeau's government as well as the Official Opposition Friday.

International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, who touted CETA as a "gold-plated trade deal," echoed Trudeau's remarks and said she had already spoken with her EU counterpart.

"I was in touch early this morning with the EU Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, about our commitment to CETA and to deepening our trading relationship," Freeland said in a written statement.

"We remain committed to growing global trade that is good for Canada's economy, good for the environment, good for labour, and good for people," she said.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, whose predecessor — former prime minister Stephen Harper — negotiated the initial Canada-EU free trade deal, urged the Liberal government to "continue to fight for the ratification" of CETA despite Friday's dramatic results.

"While there are worldwide implications that will flow from the new path forward that the UK has chosen, for Canada it will be important for our government to maintain strong ties with the UK," Ambrose said in a written statement Friday.

"This significant trade agreement can generate new jobs and new customers for Canadian goods and services, and the Liberal government must show leadership to ensure it does not become a casualty of a period of uncertainty in Europe," she said.

Conservative MP Jason Kenney, a longtime immigration minister under the previous Conservative government, tweeted congratulations to the British people for "embracing a confident, sovereign future" Friday morning.

Kenney also called on Trudeau to make negotiation of a Canada-UK trade deal a priority — and he criticized Trudeau for comments the prime minister made on Wednesday.

"Justin Trudeau was wrong to interfere in the British people's internal democratic decision on EU membership. A terrible, short-sighted gaffe," Kenney tweeted.

In his press conference to mark the end of the parliamentary sitting on Wednesday, Trudeau said the outcome was up to the British people, but made it clear he thought Britain and the EU are "stronger together."

In his end of sitting press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses why he wants Britain to stay in the EU and why it matters to Canada. 1:25

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