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Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during news conference with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2018.

REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Trouble in Freelandland?

There appears to be some tension behind the scenes between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his indispensable right-hand woman – Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chyrstia Freeland.

The trouble started on June 24, when the Liberals lost a by-election in what had been considered a safe Toronto seat. After the loss, rattled Liberals started to quietly suggest that Freeland, who represents the adjoining riding, should be replaced. On July 11, the Globe and Mail reported that senior people in Trudeau’s office were thinking of doing that. This resembled a leaked story that preceded the resignation of Trudeau’s last finance minister, Bill Morneau.

Trudeau is trying to recruit former Bank of England and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, who may or may not be interested in Freeland’s job, which leaves her in an awkward position. On Sunday, Trudeau met with Carney to try to convince him to join the government, the Globe and Mail reported. Liberals hope Carney would be better able to communicate the government’s economic message, but some are skeptical about whether he would be anxious to climb onto what looks to be a sinking ship.

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Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives at a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 12, 2016.

REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Digital services tax brawl?

Last week, the Trudeau government enacted a digital services tax that has been in the works for years — and the US is ready to retaliate. The tax promises big money for the feds, with billions in revenue expected from big tech companies that earn more than CA$1.1 billion a year.

Canada had hoped to convince its peer countries in the OECD to follow suit on the same timeline — what Finance Minister ChrystiaFreeland called the “multilateral solution” — but that hasn’t happened. At least not yet.

The US, which wants to wait on imposing any such tax, is threatening to respond to the policy. The country’s ambassador to Canada, David Cohen, labeled the tax “discriminatory,” and trade representative Katherine Tai is looking at options in response, which might include action under the US-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement.

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Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau arrives to the venue on the last day of the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain on June 30, 2022.

Jakub Porzycki via Reuters Connect

NATO goes all-in on Ukraine, Canada gets a slap on the wrist

At the NATO meeting in Washington this week, President Joe Biden announced a new air defense commitment for Ukraine that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is also in town, has long wanted. Ukraine’s defense against Russia is a central topic on the occasion of the alliance’s 75th anniversary as Putin steps up the Russian war effort.

Despite its own military aid and commitments to Ukraine, which run into the billions, Canada has been getting plenty of attention for its lack of spending. US officials criticize PM Justin Trudeau’s government for failing to meet NATO’s defense-spending target of 2% of GDP – it hit just the 1.38% GDP mark last year.

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Former US President Donald Trump talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a North Atlantic Treaty Organization Plenary Session in Britain in 2019.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Excerpt from 'The Prince': The worst moment between Trump and Trudeau

Check out this excerpt from the superb new Justin Trudeau biography “The Prince,” written by our very own Stephen Maher. Maher takes us inside the worst moment between Trump and Trudeau. It’s a fight from which their relationship never recovered.

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On June 9, at a G7 meeting in beautiful Charlevoix, on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River, Trump had a temper tantrum that brought relations between the two countries to the lowest point since the War of 1812. He arrived for the summit late and left early. Throughout, he felt put upon by the other leaders, who did not share his agenda and harangued him about tariffs, the unilateral American decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, and the Iranian nuclear deal. They flatly rejected his proposal that Russia be invited back into the fold. A picture from the event captures the vibe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is leaning on a table, looking exasperated while Trump, arms folded, looks back, defiant. She is flanked by Emmanuel Macron and Shinzō Abe. Bolton stands next to Trump. The top of [Gerald] Butts’s head is visible behind the leaders.

In his book, Bolton describes the tone of his meetings with Trudeau and Macron: “Trump didn’t really like either Trudeau or Macron, but he tolerated them, mockingly crossing swords with them in meetings ... I assume they understood what he was doing, and they responded in kind, playing along because it suited their larger interests not to be in a permanent tiff with the U.S. president.”

In the bilateral with Trudeau, Trump kept talking about how the markets had responded positively when he and Trudeau shared a friendly handshake. The leaders and their sherpas spent many hours wrangling over a communiqué that was of more concern to diplomats than voters in the countries back home. Butts was working closely with Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council of the United States, and Canadian deputy minister Peter Boehm, trying to find language that Trump and the other leaders could agree on, which they ultimately did. Trump left early, bound for Singapore and then North Korea, where he would hold a summit with dictator Kim Jong Un. He was ready to blow up generations of patient American diplomacy on nuclear non-proliferation in exchange for the opportunity to portray himself as a statesman.

On Air Force One, Trump apparently watched Trudeau’s remarks at the closing news conference and became enraged. “Canadians, we are polite, we are reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around,” Trudeau had said. “I reiterated to President Trump that these tariffs threaten to harm industry and workers on both sides of our border.” It was the same kind of thing Trudeau always said about the trade talks, but there was a difference this time: Trump happened to see the interview. “Suddenly he saw that for the first time,” Trudeau told me in an interview later.

In two tweets, Trump attacked Trudeau and withdrew US support for the communiqué everyone had been wrangling about for two days. “PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that ‘US Tariffs were kind of insulting’ and he ‘will not be pushed around.’ Very dishonest & weak.” And then the bombshell: “Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!”

Butts was enjoying a celebratory drink in Quebec, toasting a successful summit, when press secretary Cameron Ahmad came in, looking distressed. Ahmad had been relieved that the summit had gone well until he saw Trump’s tweet. “His eyes are bulging,” says Butts. “And he hands me his BlackBerry and I look at him, ‘Is this a joke?’ And then I see the little blue check mark by Donald Trump and it’s like, ‘Nope. It’s not a joke.’ So I call Larry Kudlow immediately.”

Trump asked Kudlow and Navarro to attack Trudeau on the Sunday panel shows, Bolton wrote in his book: “Just go after Trudeau. Don’t knock the others. Trudeau’s a ‘behind your back’ guy.” Navarro may have exceeded his brief on Fox News the next Sunday. “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” he said. “And that’s what bad-faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference.”

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and World Bank President Ajay Banga attend a Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) event, on the first day of the G7 summit, in Savelletri, Italy, June 13, 2024.

REUTERS/Louisa Gouliamaki

G7 strikes compromise on Ukraine funding

Both Justin Trudeau and Joe Biden flew to Italy this week for G7 meetings, where they pledged to strengthen the coalition supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russian invaders.

The G7 countries are expected to agree to lend Ukraine about $50 billion for reconstruction, backing the loan by using the interest accruing on $300 billion worth of Russian assets that were frozen by Western financial institutions after the invasion.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivers a stump speech to party members at the MK Gallery in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, while on the General Election campaign trail.

Reuters

Sunak picks a generation fight

The golden rule of desperate politicians? Find a target, pick a fight.

In Britain, they are frantically rewriting dictionaries to ensure the word “desperate” is spelled “Sunak” after the poll-parched British PM Rishi Sunk – I mean Sunak – launched his campaign for the July 4th election.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden face a summer of discontent.

A summer of discontent

Facing elections and down in the polls, Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau have a lot of bogeys on their radar, but three are starting to stand out: the election call in Britain, Labor strife in Canada, and the rising and potentially self-defeating political popularity of tariffs.

1. Rishi Sunak’s Soggy Snap Election Surprise: Comeback Miracle or Cautionary Tale for Incumbents?

After 14 years of Conservative rule in Britain, Labour now has a chance to take the helm. Beleaguered Prime Minister Rishi Sunak held a rain-drenched (read: pathetic) fallacy of a media conference yesterday to announce a surprise July 4 general election. Why did he do it? Most analysts expected Sunak to drag it out until late fall, giving himself at least two years as PM – 14.8 times longer than the wilting 49-day head-of-lettuce term of Liz Truss, who Sunak replaced in 2022. They were wrong. The Tories are down 20 points in the polls, so when Sunak saw inflation finally fall to the target rate of 2.3% – a rare win – he reckoned it wouldn’t get much better in the months ahead. A summer election could mean low voter turnout, which usually helps the incumbent.

Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau are watching closely. Both are also incumbents facing low polling numbers and an electorate that believes (facts be damned) that things are worse than ever. If Sunak can somehow turn it around – and that’s a big “if” – it would answer a core question: Can falling inflation rates reinflate incumbent popularity? Will people ever believe things are getting better? Biden and Trudeau hope so.

Sunak’s July 4 election will likely end in ashes, not fireworks, for British conservatives, but Biden and Trudeau will pick through the coals and see what they can learn from the fire.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting, in Khargone, on Tuesday.

ANI via Reuters

Canada is India's “biggest problem”

Without admitting that he sent agents to North America to kill his enemies, Narendra Modi has dropped heavy hints that his government did just that.

Amid his reelection campaign – voting is ongoing through June 1 – the Indian prime minister recently made comments in Hindi about his country’s ability to silence those abroad who challenge his country’s integrity.

“This is the new India. This New India comes into your home to kill you,” he said, according to a report in the Washington Post.

India is not in an apologetic mood, even after it was reported that officers in Indian foreign intelligence were linked to the assassination of Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, and a plot to kill his New York-based associate, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, which was foiled by US law enforcement.

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