Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promoted Donald Trump as man of his word on the U.S. cable network the president loves to hate.
Trudeau, currently celebrating Canada's exemption from U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs with a cross-country tour of factories, was a guest on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" Monday night. Trudeau appeared on the show from an aluminum plant in Quebec.
Cooper noted that Trump has a penchant for changing his mind on issues, something Trudeau has in the past told U.S. media he sees as an asset.
'He always has with me'
"When the president gives you his word... do you have full confidence that he will stick by that?" Cooper asked.
"He always had with me," Trudeau said, adding that Trump told him at the G7 summit last year that Canada would be exempted from duties.
"He assured me that Canada wouldn't be part of the tariffs if they moved forward and indeed Canada is not part of the tariffs moving forward," he said.
Trudeau also made a point of touting why Canada deserves a so-called "carve-out" on tariffs because of national security.
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"Our Canadian aluminum is in your fighter jets, Canadian steel is in your tanks," Trudeau said. "There is no better security partner in the world to the United States than Canada is so that whole issue of national security is off the table."
Yet, Canada and Mexico are exempt from the tariffs only pending the NAFTA talks. Cooper noted that some see such a move as a kind of "economic blackmail." Trudeau wouldn't go that far.
"It's something that we're dealing with. We recognize the America is eager to get motion forward on NAFTA, we are too," Trudeau said. "But one of the things that I pointed out to the president is that the steel issue, if there were tariffs brought in, it would actually make it more difficult to move forward on NAFTA.
"So I'm glad we're exempt and we're going to continue working hard together at the NAFTA table."
Watch the interview below:
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau talks trade and Trump
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau talks trade and Trump: "We're going to continue to work constructively and productively at the NAFTA table, and we'll just respond the way we have with focus on the work we do together and not too much worry about the rhetoric" http://cnn.it/2Hv7gxRPosted by Anderson Cooper 360 on Monday, 12 March 2018
Trump has consistently blasted CNN as "fake news" and has suggested journalists reporting facts there are out to get him. At a rally in Pennsylvania Saturday, Trump stirred up the crowd by taking shots at the network.
"A certain anchor on CNN ... fake as hell CNN, the worst," Trump said. "So fake. Fake news."
The crowd responded by chanting "CNN sucks."
Trump: "Fake as hell CNN. The worst. So fake. Fake news. Their ratings are lousy." pic.twitter.com/Kjec3b9ExO— Ryan Saavedra 🇺🇸 (@RealSaavedra) March 11, 2018
Earlier Monday, Trudeau told CNBC that he does not "link together the tariffs and the negotiations with NAFTA" and poured cold water on the notion that the U.S. was cutting Canada a break.
''The exemptions aren't a magical favour that was being done," he said, arguing the duties would hurt the U.S. as much as Canada.
Trudeau and Trump also spoke by phone Monday, with the president expressing his desire for a speedy completion of NAFTA talks, The Canadian Press reports.
The Trump administration has set tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, applicable to every country except Canada and Mexico. While the penalties take effect later this month, Trump has encouraged countries to try negotiating exemptions for themselves.
Canada is the United States' largest foreign provider of steel and aluminum, with about 85 per cent of Canadian exports being directed there.
With files from The Canadian Press