Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau To Visit Trump Monday
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
President Trump will welcome a high-profile visitor to the White House tomorrow, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau has prided himself on presenting Canada as a welcoming place for refugees. After President Trump announced his executive order on immigration, Trudeau tweeted - to those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you regardless of your faith. To talk more about what could be on the agenda for this first meeting by two very different men, we're joined by Rick Mercer. He's the host of CBC's "Mercer Report," and he joins us on the line.
RICK MERCER: Good morning.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. What does Trudeau want to convey about immigration on this visit?
MERCER: I don't think immigration is going to be discussed. I would imagine that Donald Trump will ask Canada to tighten up our borders, as they always do. But I think immigration will be the third rail. It will be avoided at all costs. Trade is the issue. Canadians want to know that our trade with the United States will continue and that we won't get into any kind of trade war with the United States.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's get to trade in a minute. But really, immigration isn't going to be discussed? We've seen some Canadian citizens have been denied entry into the United States because of their backgrounds, Muslim and Middle Eastern.
MERCER: I think when Justin Trudeau tweets - and Justin Trudeau tweets just like Donald Trump tweets. He occasionally just tweets things. And when he tweets that we're welcoming everyone, I mean, we're not a utopia for immigration as well. I mean, we have all sorts of issues that are very similar to the United States.
But Justin Trudeau made immigration an election campaign issue. And Canadians, by and large, don't vote on immigration, but they did in the last election. And the issue of Syrian refugees was a big deal. Now, in the United States, Donald Trump did the exact opposite. So you have two people with very different opinions heading into a room on this issue. I just don't see it coming up.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Well, let's talk about trade then. The U.S. is Canada's most important trading partner. Trump says he wants to renegotiate NAFTA. Where does Canada stand on this? And what does Canada stand to lose?
MERCER: I think Canadians, by and large, during the American election, every time Donald Trump talked about NAFTA, we felt that he was talking about Mexico. Now, if Donald Trump tears up NAFTA, there is still a Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. And we all assume that we will revert back to that agreement, which is essentially the same as NAFTA except Mexico is no longer at the table. I think, you know, that is what we are hoping for.
This is - the fact that we're having a conversation about what's going to happen when the president of the United States meets the prime minister of Canada is baffling to begin with because what should happen should be a cordial discussion and then a photo op. That's what's happened for a hundred and fifty years. But of course, as you know, the United States has suddenly become unpredictable, which is completely new for us. You have no idea how baffled we are by what you have elected.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) Taking the bafflement aside, what do you think will be, specifically, Justin Trudeau's pitch to Donald Trump in terms of this relationship, this vital relationship?
MERCER: Well, obviously, it is a relationship that is worth billions of dollars a year. We're the best friends. We've always been the best friends. And I think Justin Trudeau wants to go in there, and he wants to get out without causing any kind of an incident because, of course, we have no idea what Donald Trump will do. Maybe he'll be tweeting throughout the meeting about something else. Maybe he will come out and he'll say, you know, this little guy is my best buddy ever. We honestly have no idea. But I would imagine that Justin just wants to get in and get out without causing any international incident. That would be good.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We've got about 30 seconds left. Just briefly, these are two very different men. Do you think they'll get along?
MERCER: I think they're going to pretend that they get along at the very least. I think Donald Trump realizes that if the story, in a day or two, is that the United States is in a war of words with Canada, people are going to go - well, good Lord, if he can't get along with Canada, he can't get along with anyone. And I think he realizes that that friendship has to endure and has to continue.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Rick Mercer - he's the host of the CBC show, "The Mercer Report."
Thanks so much.
MERCER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.