Justin Trudeau unlikely to raise differences with Trump on Monday

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, chair of the cabinet committee on Canada-U.S. relations, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is willing to talk about the differences between his government and President Donald Trump's, but the topic is unlikely to come up during next week's trip to Washington.

'We've got a good arrangement going, and let's keep it going,' says chair of Canada-U.S. relations committee

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, who also chairs the committee on U.S.-Canada relations, says Monday's meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump will likely focus on the strong bonds between the countries. (Todd Korol/Canadian Press)

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, chair of the cabinet committee on Canada-U.S. relations, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is willing to talk about the differences between his government and President Donald Trump's, but the topic is unlikely to come up during next week's trip to Washington.

Monday's meeting "is going to be a high-level meeting where we talk about the things we share in common. As time goes on, we'll get down into more specific areas in the different files that are important to the two countries," he told Chris Hall of CBC Radio's The House.

"The prime minister has said he will convey our values to the president of the United States and that's fair. And President Trump will do likewise.… We will talk about what we have in common, but on occasion we will also make the point that we have a different way of looking at certain things."

During Trudeau's trip to Washington, Garneau said, the prime minister will likely talk about the strong bonds between the two countries, emphasizing defence, security, the environment and trade.

When asked if Trudeau would raise the issue of immigration and refugees with the new president — contrasting Trump's insistence on a temporary refugee and travel ban with Canada's immigration approach —  Garneau repeated that the meeting would focus on the commonalities between the two countries.

The minister said Trudeau is prepared to negotiate with a deliberately provocative leader.

"We are negotiators just like the other side. They expect that from us and we expect that from them.… I think the prime minister is going to make the point that, yes, for 35 states we are the No. 1 customer," he said.

A discussion about jobs could be a "win-win," he said.

Trudeau and Trump have spoken on the phone, but on Monday they will have their first face-to-face meeting. (Canadian Press/Associated Press)

"Of course, President Trump will also have some messages to convey to us. Obviously he's made it very clear for him a priority is also to create jobs," Garneau said.

"We've got a good arrangement going, and let's keep it going."

Opposition urging different approaches 

Earlier this week, NDP MP Nathan Cullen suggested that the prime minister stand up for Canadian values and economic interests, such as the continuing softwood lumber dispute.

"I think he has to speak truth to power," he said. "Simply lying down and hoping that he doesn't notice us is not the strategy to use with Mr. Trump. We've seen people try to placate him in the past — other Republicans, Democrats — it doesn't work."

But Conservative MP Gerry Ritz said Trudeau should avoid the temptation to go "overboard" in confronting the new president.

"It's always been good politics to have a fight with our southern neighbour, but at the end of the day, that's our major trading partner. We have to work with them on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour business," he said.