Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says former U.S. President Donald Trump used “bully” tactics during negotiations on a new North American free-trade agreement more than two years ago.
Freeland was asked Thursday to respond to a characterization of herself as a frustrating and difficult negotiator in a new memoir by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
“When you’re threatened by a bully the answer is not to cave in,” she said. “The answer is to be united, and to stand strong.”
She initially linked the notion to Ukraine standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin but quickly said she wasn’t trying in any way to compare the plight of Ukrainians to Canada’s dealings with its biggest trading partner.
In his book Breaking History, Kushner accused Freeland of purposely stalling negotiations and speaking publicly about the talks against the wishes of the White House.
He said Canada, with Freeland at the helm, engaged in “an increasingly frustrating series of negotiations” and “refusing to commit to any substantive changes.”
He was also critical of her for leaving the negotiations and holding press conferences with Canadian journalists “uttering platitudes like ‘I get paid in Canadian dollars, not U.S. dollars.’”
Freeland didn’t directly confront any of Kushner’s assertions but said Canada’s best asset in those negotiations was a united front on the talks presented by Conservative premiers and the federal Liberal government.
That united front included public statements backing the government against Trump by then-Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
“Canada’s Conservatives continue to support the Prime Minister’s efforts to make the case for free trade. Divisive rhetoric and personal attacks from the US administration are clearly unhelpful.,” Scheer tweeted on June 10, 2018.
That came after Trump called Trudeau “very dishonest and weak.”
“We will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Prime Minister and the people of Canada,” Ford said, responding to the same insult.