OTTAWA — The United States embassy in Ottawa issued a statement late Wednesday to commend “the service and sacrifice of our Canadian allies” after a top White House adviser criticized the country’s military role in Afghanistan.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro is quoted in a new book by CNN correspondent Jim Sciutto, titled “The Madman Theory: Trump Takes on the World,” claiming Canada’s 12-year mission was driven moreso by political motivations to get on the U.S. government’s good side than by a desire to combat terrorism.
Navarro is quoted in the book saying, “Every time that a Canadian shows up in a uniform, it’s doing us a favour? How’s that work?”
The statement from Chargé d’Affaires Richard Mills, acting U.S. Ambassador to Canada, reaffirmed the U.S. “deeply values the service and sacrifice of our Canadian allies in support of the defense of freedom and global security.”
Watch: Former U.S. ambassador to Canada says ‘adversarial’ relationships with allies needs reset. Story continues below video.
More than 40,000 Canadian soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014. Canada lost 158 soldiers in the U.S.-led NATO mission, spurred by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Mills’ statement also cited a quote from Vice President Mike Pence’s May 2019 visit to Canada, which noted “both of our nations have endured great sacrifice.”
Navarro’s comments hit a nerve with retired general Rick Hillier, who called Trump’s trade adviser “an idiot” during an interview with CBC News’ “Power & Politics” Tuesday.
Hillier, who was appointed NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, expressed confusion over why Navarro publicize these thoughts.
“I mean, even if you believe those things, I’m not sure why you would make them, or why you would disrespect the service and sacrifice in this spilling of blood and the loss of lives by Canada’s sons and daughters who soldiered alongside our American battle brothers and sisters,” he told host Vassy Kapelos.
Navarro has since claimed his quotes criticizing Canada’s military role in Afghanistan were taken out of context, despite CTV News obtaining audio recordings of his interview with Scuitto.
It’s not the first time Trump’s trade adviser has caused a diplomatic stir.
Navarro apologized in 2018 for saying there is a “special place in hell” for Trudeau after the prime minister told reporters following the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Que. that Canada would not be pushed around by the U.S. on steel and aluminum tariffs.
Trump had left the summit early to travel to Singapore to meet with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un.