Politics

Trudeau holds call with premiers to reassure them over Canada-U.S. relationship

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with his provincial and territorial counterparts today in an effort to reassure them about Canada's economic and security relationship with the United States.

Discussion with premiers did not cover continuing dispute over health-care funding

In a phone call with premiers Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau moved to reassure his provincial and territorial counterparts that bilateral discussions were active between the Canadian and U.S. governments. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with his provincial and territorial counterparts today in an effort to reassure them about Canada's economic and security relationship with the United States.

Trudeau spoke about a number of issues, "in particular," said a statement from the Prime Minister's Office, "the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship" and the "opportunities presented by the new administration."

According to sources, the debate over how the federal government was going to fund health care in Canada was not discussed.

What was discussed, however, was the progress the Trudeau government was making at the national level to engage with the incoming Donald Trump administration on issues such as softwood lumber and the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Sources say the tone was positive, with Trudeau reassuring the premiers about border access and trade concerns, and that high-level discussions between bureaucrats and elected officials were proceeding well.

The provinces were encouraged to continue discussions at the state-to-province level to ensure the Canadian perspective found sympathetic ears.

Trump's campaign promises to renegotiate or scrap NAFTA have set many political leaders in Canada on edge as they worry about the trading relationship between Canada and the U.S. and how it could be affected by the new administration. 

Trump reaffirmed that promise Friday when the White House's web page was updated with a section on trade deals that repeated the president's gripes with NAFTA and what he intends to do about it. 

"If our partners refuse a renegotiation, that gives American workers a fair deal, then the president will give notice of the United States' intent to withdraw from NAFTA," said a posting on Whitehouse.gov.

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