It was puzzling. Maybe, it was also a bit disturbing.
U.S. President Donald Trump was shaking hands with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un Tuesday, moments after Trump and a member of his staff were chastising Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
It didn’t make any sense.
Trump once called Kim “rocket man”.
He threatened “fire and fury” back in August if Kim didn’t back off from his threat to use nuclear weapons.
And Trump and Trudeau are supposed to be friends. Back in July, Trump praised Trudeau at the G20 summit.
“We have a great neighbour in Canada and Justin is doing a spectacular job in Canada,” Trump said. “Everybody loves him and they love him for a reason.”
But then came this from one of Trump’s trade advisors, Peter Navarro the other day:
“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door. And that’s what bad-faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt news conference. That’s what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did.”
This is what Trudeau said shortly after the G7 summit wrapped up in Charlevoix, Quebec the other day that angered the Americans:
“Canadians did not take it lightly that the United States has moved forward with significant tariffs on our steel and aluminum industry. “It’s kind of insulting.”
Now, Navarro has since apologized for his remarks, but the damage has already been done.
Trudeau, meanwhile, wasn’t the only one stunned by Trump’s announcement of tariffs. And he also wasn’t the only one stunned after Trump praised Kim, not long after chastising Trudeau, leader of one his allies.
Even the Toronto Star doesn’t think this makes any sense: “For Trump, an embrace for a dictator and a back of the hand to an ally” read the headline on a column from Tim Harper, national affairs columnist for The Toronto Star Tuesday.
“Häagen-Dazs and honours for a ruthless dictator. A special place in hell and threats for a trusted, steady ally,” Harper wrote. “For Donald Trump, the world is his stage. Justin Trudeau has his role in this global theatre as does Kim Jong Un.
“It appeared Tuesday morning that the U.S. president was flipping the world order, but it will almost inevitably flip back and eventually find its natural order.”
But will it? Trump is ready to punish the people of Canada because of Trudeau’s nasty words towards the U.S. president after the G7 summit.
“Escalating his attack on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Donald Trump is now pledging to punish “the people of Canada” economically because of the post-G7 news conference in which Trudeau criticized Trump’s tariffs,” a Toronto Star story from Daniel Dale and Alex Ballingall reads.
“That’s going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada. He learned. You can’t do that. You can’t do that,” Trump said Tuesday in Singapore after meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
The Star’s story continues with this: “Trump repeated the vague threat in an interview with ABC.
“I actually like Justin, you know, I think he’s good; I like him, but he shouldn’t have done that. That was a mistake. That’s going to cost him a lot of money,” Trump said.
Canadian leaders responded with restraint. Trudeau briefly addressed the latest barb on his way into Tuesday morning’s cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill.
“Obviously we support the continuing efforts by the president on North Korea. We look forward to looking at the details of the agreement. On his comments, as I said, I’m going to stay focused on defending jobs for Canadians and supporting Canadian interests,” Trudeau said.
Maybe it’s time for Trump and Trudeau to get back on the same page. The threat of a nuclear war far outweighs the battles over steel and aluminum tariffs. Trump and Trudeau should know that.
Their enemy isn’t each other. Their enemy is a dangerous man threatening to destroy the world.
Now Trump appeared to make some progress Tuesday with a deal that appears to come with a promise to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons.
But the world will wait to see if that pledge is honored.
And the people of Canada and the United States will wait to see if Trump and Trudeau can heal their spat and come to a fair equitable trade deal that will end the feuds between the two countries and spur the economy.