Harper blasts Trudeau over NAFTA
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper believes the current federal government is avoiding a NAFTA deal in order to score political points, according to an audio recording obtained by CTV News.
"The reality is that the Government of Canada believes today that is it doing very well, the fight with Trump is good for it politically – it is winning," Harper said in the recording of a speech he delivered at a private luncheon hosted by the Australia-Economic Leadership Forum in Montreal earlier this month.
"So if it can take that fight and continue it, and more importantly paint conservatives as linked to Donald Trump, this is great for them. And so right now that is the strategy they are on.”
“I think that the fact that Harper is accusing Trudeau of playing a political game – I don’t know that it’s such a bombshell, it kind of makes sense,” Jeff Weniger, asset allocation strategist at WisdomTree Asset Management, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Friday.
“You can clearly see that it’s a political winner in Canada to make statements adverse to Trump – or to show that you are standing up to Trump. I think the political calculus works for Trudeau to do that.”
CTV News also learned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached out to Harper last month to discuss cooperation on the NAFTA file. But in the audio recording, Harper said the current government doesn’t want his help.
“I could be very helpful to them, but it’s clear … they don’t want my help,” he said.
Trudeau responded Friday while taking questions from the media in Markham, Ont., noting he's spoken to almost all of Canada's former prime ministers, including Harper, "to ensure that everyone understands that this an all-hands-on-deck approach."
"This is an approach where Canadians expect and demand all of us to work together, because our relationship with the United States, particularly around trade and the renegotiation of NAFTA, is much more important than playing politics,” Trudeau said.
“I’m not going to play politics on this. I’m going to remain focused on getting the right deal for Canada – not just any deal – but the best possible deal. ”
In a tweet posted after the meeting in Montreal on July 11, Harper said he “enjoyed discussing political disruption and geo-politics.”
Harper made headlines with his visit to Washington, D.C. earlier this month for reportedly not informing the current government of his trip.
Harper took aim at the Prime Minister’s Office at the Montreal event, alleging it leaked his trip to Washington to the media.