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


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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Energy assessment law needed to avoid another Trans Mountain impasse, PM says


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is overhauling how Canada assesses big energy projects in a bid to ensure new projects can get built without the government having to buy them to make that happen.

« We’re going to work to make sure that we’re creating a system where you don’t have to pass a law to get a pipeline built, you don’t have to buy an energy project in order to de-risk it, » Trudeau said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.

« We want an energy sector where the private sector has confidence in getting our resources to markets. »

The government’s $4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline was one of the biggest — and possibly most unexpected — political manoeuvres the Liberals made in 2018.

The government bought it from Kinder Morgan at the end of the summer after political opposition to expanding the pipeline gave the company and its investors cold feet.

Trans Mountain hit a major snag in August when the Federal Court of Appeal tore up federal approval for the expansion citing insufficient environment and Indigenous consultations.

The government is trying to get it back on track by redoing parts of those consultations to do what the court said was lacking.

Trudeau believes his government’s Impact Assessment Act will fix a flawed review process that created the uncertainty around Trans Mountain. Bill C-69 is one of the last big pieces of legislation the government wants passed before the next election — and potentially is in for a very rough ride.

The bill sets in place new timelines and parameters for reviews, lifts limits set by the previous Conservatives on who can participate in the process, and creates an early-phase consultation with Indigenous communities and anyone else impacted by the project to identify concerns.

Trudeau said is open to amendments if it makes the bill better, but added he won’t agree to dropping the legislation entirely. He said not passing the legislation is not an option if Canadians want to see their resources developed.

« No matter how much we’re investing in the knowledge economy and education, Canada will always have a core of natural resources as an important part of our economy, » he said.

A Senate committee is scheduled to start hearings on C-69 at the end of January, but the bill faces stiff opposition from Conservative senators spurred by an angry oil industry and the Alberta government.

Conservative natural resources critic Shannon Stubbs said if the law is approved, there won’t be any new energy projects like pipelines approved in Canada because no investor would believe it could withstand the tests required under C-69.

Stubbs said she thinks the bill needs to be scrapped altogether, or at the very least remove the discretion for the government to put the proposed two-year review process on hold.

She also wants the government to rework the bill so that environmental assessments only contemplate greenhouse gas emissions produced by the pipeline itself and not those produced by the refining process.

The bill does not specifically require upstream emissions be looked at. Rather, the legislation says the project has to be considered in terms of its impact on Canada meeting its greenhouse gas reduction targets.


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Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms


Justin Trudeau says his government hopes to make legal changes that will cement his transformation of the Senate into a more independent, non-partisan chamber, making it harder for a future prime minister to turn back the clock.

The prime minister says his government will amend the Parliament of Canada Act — the law that spells out the powers and privileges of MPs and senators — to better reflect the new reality in the upper house, where most senators now sit as independents unaffiliated with any political party.

« We’re going to try to make it fair, » Trudeau said in a year-end roundtable interview with the Ottawa bureau of The Canadian Press. « We’re going to try to do it before the election. »

Doing it before next fall’s election is critically important for independent senators, who fear Trudeau’s reforms could be easily reversed should the Liberals fail to win re-election.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has said that if he becomes prime minister, he would revert to the previous practice of making overtly partisan appointments, naming only Conservatives to the upper house.

Trudeau kicked senators out of the Liberal caucus in 2014. Since taking office in 2015, he’s named only senators recommended by an arm’s-length advisory body in a bid to return the Senate to its intended role as an independent chamber of sober second thought.

Of the 105 senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together for greater clout in the Independent Senators’ Group. Another 31 are Conservatives, 10 are Liberal-independents and 10 are unaffiliated. The Conservatives are the only remaining overtly partisan group in the chamber.

Yet the Parliament of Canada Act recognizes only two partisan caucuses in the Senate: the governing party caucus and the Opposition caucus, both of which are entitled to research funds, dedicated time to debate bills, memberships on committees and a role in the day-to-day decisions about Senate business, such as when to adjourn debate.

Independence in the Red Chamber

Senators have agreed on the fly to some accommodation of the growing ranks of independents, giving them some research funds and committee roles. But the leadership of the ISG has argued that their role must be explicitly spelled out and guaranteed in the Parliament of Canada Act. And, since the change would involve allocating financial resources, they say it can’t be initiated by the Senate, only by the government in the House of Commons.

Sen. Raymonde Saint-Germain, deputy leader of the ISG, said amending the act is the only way to give independent senators a « permanent voice » and to « secure this essential reform for an independent and non-partisan Senate. »

« The reform that Prime Minister Trudeau very courageously announced and implemented … has to be completed, » she said in an interview. « It won’t come from within the Senate. The only way to complete it, to have it finished, is to amend the Parliament of Canada Act. »

Raymonde Saint-Germain, centre, stands with Senators Raymonde Gagne, left, and Peter Harder before being sworn into the Senate on Dec. 1. She says the only way to ensure senators can be independent of party discipline is to change the act. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Trudeau said he’s pleased with the way the reformed Senate has operated, even though independent-minded senators are now more prone to amending government bills, which has slowed down the legislative process somewhat and occasionally sparked fears — unrealized thus far — that the Senate could defeat legislation outright.

« Canadians have been able to see the benefits and the thoughtful amendments and engagement they’ve had with bills in a way that I think has been very positive. I think removing partisanship in a significant way from the Senate has been good for our democracy, good for institutions, » he said.

As for Scheer, Trudeau said: « If he really wants to go back to the kind of partisanship and patronage that we were able to do away with, well, that’s something that he’s going to have to explain. »

New senators with Liberal ties

Just this week, however, Trudeau appointed two new senators with strong Liberal connections: A former Liberal premier of Yukon, Pat Duncan, and Nova Scotia mental-health expert Stanley Kutcher, who ran for the Liberals in the 2011 election and lost.

« I don’t think that membership in any given political party should ban them from being able to be thoughtful, independent senators who are not answerable to me, but answerable to the values they have, » Trudeau said, adding, « I’m sure we have also appointed people who’ve donated to the NDP or donated to the Conservative party. »

Conservatives have repeatedly questioned just how non-partisan the independent senators really are, noting that most seem to share Trudeau’s values — a charge Trudeau did not deny.

« I’m not going to pick people who are completely offline with where I think my values or many Canadians’ values are, » he said. « A future prime minister of a different political stripe will certainly be able to appoint people … who might have a slightly different ideological bent. I think that’s going to naturally happen in our system. »

Nevertheless, he said the institution is better for the fact that most senators are not answerable to the prime minister and don’t sit in partisan caucuses « to plot political strategy. »


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Trudeau wants new relationship with Indigenous people to be his legacy as PM


OTTAWA – Rebuilding Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people is part of the legacy Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to leave, he told chiefs gathered at a major Assembly of First Nations meeting in Ottawa Tuesday afternoon.

“We have to help demonstrate with you that everything we do starts from recognizing the rights you already have that you shouldn’t have to take us to court to prove that you have,” said Trudeau, answering a question from Chief Wayne Christian of Splatsin First Nation in the B.C. Interior.

Trudeau said if his government is able to accomplish that, all future Canadian governments will have to follow suit.

“We will start from a place of partnership – the place we started all those centuries ago and unfortunately lost our way from. That is the legacy that I look forward to building with all of you in the coming years,” he said.

READ MORE: FSIN welcomes federal proposed changes to Indigenous child welfare system

Christian had told Trudeau, in a question-and-answer session, that he had confronted Trudeau’s father Pierre in 1980 and accused him of lying to the world about what was happening in Canada to Indigenous people. The younger Trudeau’s account of Indigenous people’s experience of “humiliation, neglect and abuse” in a United Nations speech in 2017 was welcome, he said.

“I’m grateful that you actually corrected that when you went to the UN and made your statements,” Christian told him. “You let the world know the issues going on in Canada. So we really need to think about this and where are we going to go from here.”

WATCH: ‘It is not a process that will ever give unanimity: Trudeau on Trans Mountain

The chiefs received Trudeau warmly, presenting him with a buckskin vest, and National Chief Perry Bellegarde shook his hand after he spoke.

Trudeau followed his own minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, Carolyn Bennett, who’d spoken earlier in the day and compared Canada’s formal way of relating to Indigenous people to “a big, leaky old colonial boat.”

“For years we’ve tried to patch this old wreck and we’ve been bailing it with a thimble. We all know that this isn’t going to work,” Bennett said.

Bennett said Canada needs to keep up with Indigenous people, their aspirations and their goals.

“I believe Canada needs to get out of that colonialist boat, run it ashore, leave it to rot or at least put it up, drydock and rebuild it. We need a vessel that can navigate the changing waters, one that can keep pace with your vision and aspiration. One that is no longer holding back the promise for your children and grandchildren and their grandchildren,” Bennett said.

READ MORE: Southern Alberta Indigenous group ends addictions awareness week with powerful message

Moving away from the 1876 Indian Act that largely defines relations between Canada and Indigenous Peoples is a mutual goal and repeated that the federal government will introduce legislation on Indigenous child-and-family services in the new year, written in co-operation with Indigenous groups.

“We want to work on this new ship and we want to get it in the water because we know the current is with us.”

WATCH: Trudeau addresses questions about MMIW and indigenous languages

Bellegarde told the chiefs that he wants to see a few key pieces of legislation passed before the House of Commons rises in June and an election campaign takes over federal politics, including the child-welfare legislation, the long-awaited Indigenous Languages Act, and NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s private member’s bill, which seeks to ensure Canada’s laws line up with the United Nations declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Bellegarde also spoke about climate change and asked the chiefs and delegates to support a carbon tax as one way to head it off.

He talked about putting his organization’s “Closing the Gap” document in front of each party during the last federal election. It outlined priorities on everything from the environment to Indigenous languages.

READ MORE: Indigenous leader spending 27 hours in prison cell without food or water to honour Mandela

Bellegarde said First Nations voters were responsible for flipping 22 ridings in the 2015 federal election.

“You people running in federal elections, you better listen to First Nations issues now if you want to get elected,” he said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Leader Elizabeth May are all on the program for the third day of the chiefs’ assembly, on Thursday.


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Opposition leader Andrew Scheer talks energy with Indian PM Modi


Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi he wants to find ways to ship Canadian oil and gas to India to meet its voracious energy needs.

Scheer said that’s the message he delivered to Modi on Tuesday during their meeting in New Delhi, which was part of the Opposition leader’s week-long trip to forge economic links and deepen trade with the country.

Scheer said he told the Indian leader he is serious about developing the energy sector and getting oil resources to market, including reviving the failed Energy East pipeline that would have delivered Canadian oil to the East Coast, so it could be shipped to India.

TransCanada abandoned its Energy East pipeline project last fall, citing non-specific « changed circumstances. »

Supporters of the project blamed costs and delays due to federal regulatory demands, while others have said it succumbed to simple market forces.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer announced on Twitter that he will travel to India in October. Scheer said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit there earlier this year damaged the relationship. (Twitter)

In an interview, Scheer said he blames the Liberals, reiterating the criticism he’s levelled recently in the House of Commons.

« Energy East was on the table. It was cancelled because of Liberal regulatory changes. We continue to have tanker after tanker of foreign oil coming up the St. Lawrence into eastern Canadian markets directly because of the government’s decision, » Scheer said from New Delhi.

During an exchange with Scheer last month in the Commons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the plug was pulled on the project because a private company made a business decision based on the falling price of oil.

On Tuesday, Scheer said a Conservative government would remove roadblocks to pipeline expansion so Canadian oil and gas can reach new markets.

The Conservative leader made no mention of Trudeau’s heavily criticized trip to India earlier in the year, where he was taken to task for dressing up in traditional Indian clothing for a series of photo-ops with this family.

Scheer characterized his conversation with Modi as « warm, » saying his host wanted his take on the recently completed renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Scheer said he told Modi what he has been saying in public.

« This was a challenging time for Canada. Obviously what we had under the original NAFTA was very good. Canada prospered greatly from it, » said Scheer.

« Now, we’ve given up ground in some key areas, and there’s a sense of frustration that some of the big issues that we thought would be resolved like steel and aluminum tariffs haven’t been. »

Tory government would prioritize free trade with India

Scheer said he wanted to send a message to Modi that if the Conservatives form government in 2019, they will make India a major focus of efforts to expand free trade agreements.

Scheer acknowledged there are still many hurdles to be cleared in pursuing trade with India, but he suggested the country offers better prospects than some destinations.

Scheer didn’t mention China by name, but he said India and Canada are both Commonwealth democracies with « a similar foundation for the rule of law. »

Scheer also held meetings on Sunday with India’s foreign affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, and the minister of state for housing and urban affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri. He is to fill the rest of the week meeting with Indian business leaders.

The trip is one of a series of foreign forays that the Conservative leader has been making to burnish his international credentials ahead of next year’s federal election.

The Conservatives have been hearing a lot lately from their former leader, ex-prime minister Stephen Harper, who just authored a book about the global disruptions in politics and business that have occurred since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Scheer said he hasn’t read it yet, but added, « whether it’s Liberal or Conservative — any time someone has a perspective on what their experience has been as prime minister of the country, it’s always interesting. »


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