WASHINGTON — White House trade adviser Peter Navarro is taking some unprovoked swipes at Canada in a new book about U.S. President Donald Trump’s unconventional approach to foreign policy.
In CNN correspondent Jim Sciutto’s book, “The Madman Theory: Trump Takes on the World,” Navarro casts aspersions on Canada’s role in the U.S.-led multilateral NATO mission in Afghanistan.
He suggests Canada’s decade-long mission, which cost the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers, was motivated more by a desire to curry favour with the U.S. than to support the global fight against terrorism.
Navarro also accuses Canada of being out of step with “Trump world,” maintaining unfair barriers to foreign dairy imports and facilitating the dumping of Chinese products into U.S. markets.
In an interview with CTV News, former Obama-era defence secretary Leon Panetta rejected Navarro’s comments, saying they reflect more on the self-interests of the Trump administration than they do on Canada’s values.
It’s not the first time the outspoken Navarro has set his sights north of the border: following the fractious G7 summit in Quebec in 2018, he accused Justin Trudeau of “bad-faith diplomacy” and said there would be a “special place in hell” for the prime minister.
CTV obtained audio recordings of Navarro’s interviews with Sciutto, who was questioning the trade adviser about the Trump administration’s often-caustic approach to foreign relations when the subject of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan came up.
“Were they doing us a favour, or were they brought into the idea they needed to do that as part of the global effort against terrorists?” Navarro responds.
“I mean, if they were just doing us a favour, maybe their government should have been thrown out of office. I mean, every time that a Canadian shows up in a uniform, it’s doing us a favour? How’s that work?”
Navarro’s sentiments are largely a reflection of the Trump administration’s confrontational approach to Canada, particularly on matters of cross-border trade.
“What’s good about Canada?” Sciutto quotes him as saying, before he rattles off a list of grievances, including barriers to U.S. dairy products and a claim that the country serves as a transshipment point for Chinese products that would otherwise be subject to countervailing duties.
“It’s like this blue-eyed brother kind of thing,” he said. “It’s just Canada. It has its own national interests and self-interests.”
Panetta, who served as Barack Obama’s secretary of defence from 2011 to 2013, described Canada as having been “in the foxhole” with the U.S., as well as being a long-standing and trusted ally — unlike the U.S. itself in the Trump era.
“(Trump) sends a strong signal that he is not a trustworthy member or a trustworthy ally, and that raises a lot of concerns with regards to those strong alliances that are critical to peace and prosperity,” Panetta told CTV.
“Instead of an America that is a world leader, the rest of the world is looking at the United States as a rogue nation that cannot be trusted.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2020.