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Stephen Harper says ‘a smart Canadian PM’ finds a way to get along with Trump – National

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Former prime minister Stephen Harper says Canadian leaders have to find a way to get along with U.S. President Donald Trump because of Canada’s “overwhelming” dependence on the U.S. as an economic and geopolitical partner.

Harper made his remarks during a panel session with former British prime minister Tony Blair at the Raisina Dialogue, a geopolitical summit held in New Delhi and sponsored by the Indian government, on Tuesday.

“Every year, I would go to New York on business and [Trump] was on a list of people that asked to meet me but we never actually met,” Harper said when asked about his impressions of Trump. “But I know many of the people around him, I think I’ve got a pretty good picture.”

READ MORE: Trudeau says similarities between Scheer, Harper are worth ‘pointing out’

Without mentioning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by name, Harper said he believes it’s important that “a smart Canadian prime minister” gets a few things right when dealing with the American president.

“First of all, he establishes — to the best of his ability — a good personal relationship with the president of the United States, regardless of that president’s personality or political party,” said Harper.

“Secondly, a smart prime minister of Canada — because we can often be off the radar in Washington — goes out of his way to show when we are onside with the United States how we can be a useful partner in furthering the United States’ global role because that’s ultimately in our interests.

“If you do those two things correctly, that is the basis on which you can then respectfully disagree when you need to.”

WATCH: Trudeau responds to nationalism and social media comments aimed at Trump







Trump and some of his aides have hurled insults at Trudeau during testy trade talks over the past year.

Following the G7 summit last summer, Trump described Trudeau’s behaviour as “meek and mild” and accused Trudeau of making “false statements” at a press conference.

In the days that followed, Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNN that Trudeau “stabbed us in the back,” while trade advisor Peter Navarro told Fox News that there’s a “special place in hell” for Trudeau, who he accused of engaging in “bad-faith diplomacy.”

READ MORE: Timeline of Donald Trump’s war of words (and trade) with Justin Trudeau

Trump has occasionally used Trudeau’s first name derisively, slamming “Justin” in a series of tweets in the wake of the G7 summit.

In November, Trudeau used a press conference with Trump to encourage “Donald” to drop tariffs on steel and aluminum.

WATCH: Trudeau tells Trump that GM closures example of why steel tariffs creates economic barriers







Harper said at the summit that the majority of Canada’s trade is with the U.S. while Canada’s “security and values interests” are linked to America’s, making it important for the two countries to maintain a strong relationship.

The Conservative former prime minister also met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and presented Modi with a copy of his new book.

The pair “exchanged views on developments in India-Canada relations, main global trends and cooperation among democracies,” Modi’s office said in a statement.

Harper also heaped praise on “my friend” Modi, calling him “the most significant leader of India since Independence.”

Harper’s visit to India comes three months after Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s trip to the South Asian country, which Scheer said he used to pitch Canadian oil and foreign policy cooperation to Modi.

READ MORE: Andrew Scheer pitches Canadian oil to Indian PM Narendra Modi, touts trade ties

It also comes less than a year after Trudeau’s troubled state visit to India.

Trudeau’s trip was marred by the invitation of convicted attempted murderer Jaspal Atwal to official events, with the National Security and Intelligence Committee issuing a report last month blaming several failings in the government’s vetting system for guest lists on foreign visits.

READ MORE: Security report on Justin Trudeau’s India trip finds serious ‘gaps’ in vetting process

Security sources told Global News’ Ottawa bureau chief Mercedes Stephenson that they believed the Prime Minister’s Office redacted the report to try and transfer the blame for security lapses to the RCMP, CSIS and other intelligence agencies.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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