What have Trump and Biden said about Canada?
On November 3, 2020, Americans will choose whether they want four more years of U.S. President Donald Trump — or would rather hand the presidency to Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
But as Canada watches from the wings, one can’t help but wonder — what have the two presidential candidates said about us?
As the adage goes, when the U.S. sneezes, Canada catches a cold. And when U.S. presidential hopefuls mention their neighbours to the north, we tend to grab the popcorn.
From Trump asking if Canadians burned down the White House in 1812, to Biden calling the United States Canada’s “big brother,” CTVNews.ca has taken a look at some notable quotes from Biden and Trump about Canada — and our prime minister — over the years.
“VIVE LE CANADA”
Then-vice president Biden said these words during a dinner with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on December 8, 2016, during his visit to Ottawa. During the dinner, which took place a month after Trump became president-elect, Biden asked Trudeau to be a defender of the international “rules of the road” given the uncertainly that he said was gripping the world at the time.
He also had some very kind words for Canadians, boasting the brotherly relationship of the two countries.
“The way I look at our relationship — and I know sometimes we’re like the big brother that’s a pain in the neck and overbearing — and I mean that sincerely. I get it. But we’re more like family, even than allies,” Biden said at the time.
During the speech, Biden explained that few nations have as much in common as Canada and the United States, as the countries are “sprung from the same root.”
He also warned of a looming period of threats to the “liberal international order” — the most seen since the Second World War.
“We’re going to get through this period because we’re Americans and we’re Canadians,” said Biden.
“And so had I a glass, I’d toast you by saying, Vive le Canada.”
“I LOVE CANADA…”
“…but they’ve taken advantage of our Country for many years!” That was a tweet from Trump on Sept 1, 2018, when NAFTA negotiations were ongoing. That same day, Trump also noted that there was “no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal.”
The negotiations that led Canada, Mexico and the United States to the new NAFTA proved tumultuous in terms of Trump’s comments about Canada. He vacillated wildly on Twitter between decrying Canada’s handling of the negotiations, to praising them. Just a month after saying Canadians were taking advantage of the United States, the three countries found common ground and had forged a revamped trilateral trade agreement on September 30, 2018.
“Mexico, Canada and the United States are a great partnership and will be a very formidable trading force. We will now, because of the USMCA, work very well together. Great Spirit!” Trump tweeted on Oct 3, 2018.
However, that attitude ultimately shifted once again — when Trump noticed reports that his cameo in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York had been cut from CBC’s airing of the film.
“I guess Justin T doesn’t much like my making him pay up on NATO or Trade!” Trump tweeted in response on December 26, 2019. CBC had actually cut the scene in 2014 to make room for commercials.
BIDEN VOWS TO CANCEL KEYSTONE XL
The presidential hopeful made a splash in Canada when Canadians learned he plans to rip up Trump’s Keystone XL pipeline approvals once he’s sworn into office. Former president Barack Obama had originally rejected the chunk of pipeline that was to be built on U.S. soil — but Trump approved the project in January of this year.
“Stopping Keystone was the right decision then and it’s still the right decision now. In fact, it’s even more important today,” Biden’s policy director Stef Feldman said in a written statement sent to The Canadian Press.
While environmentalists welcomed the announcement, others — including Alberta Premier Jason Kenney — were less than thrilled to learn of Biden’s plan. However, should Biden win the election, Kenney isn’t prepared to take the decision lying down.
“We will use every tool at our disposal to get this project done,” the premier said July 3. “We have taken a conscious risk to get construction started, to create facts on the ground and we look forward to working with the many key leaders in the United States to support that.”
“DIDN’T YOU GUYS BURN DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE?”
In 2018, in the midst of NAFTA negotiations, Trump slapped tariffs on imports of Canadian steel and aluminum. The trade spat saw tariffs lobbed back and forth between the two countries, including Canada’s decision to slap tariffs on a wide array of U.S. products including quiche, mayonnaise, and toilet paper.
Ahead of the 2018 G7 summit, there was a reportedly testy phone call between Trump and Trudeau. During the call, according to CNN’s reporting, Trudeau pressed Trump to provide an explanation for using national security as the justification for the tariffs.
“Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” the president reportedly replied, according to CNN.
The comment was in reference to the war of 1812, in which British troops — not Canadian ones — attacked the White House.
BIDEN USES TRUDEAU IN AN ATTACK AD AGAINST TRUMP
It was a moment heard around the world when Trudeau and a handful of other world leaders were caught on a hot microphone gossiping about Trump — and they weren’t exchanging compliments about the president’s hair.
Instead, the video, which was shot during a reception at Buckingham Palace on December 3, shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, asking French President Emmanuel Macron why he was late. In response, Trudeau quips, “he was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.”
Though the president is never mentioned by name, Trump had taken multiple questions from journalists during an unscheduled news conference ahead of meetings with Trudeau, Macron, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Trudeau went on to say, without a clear context, that “You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”
The footage made headlines around the world, but as the fallout of the footage was still settling the next day, Biden released an attack ad using excerpts of the video to claim the world is “laughing” at the president.
Two seconds into the attack ad, Trudeau appears on screen gossiping about the president — before the ad progresses into clips of voices alleging Trump’s incompetence.
However, despite Biden’s use of this footage, the photographed relationship between Trudeau and the presidential appears close — at least, if the photo on Biden’s vice presidential instagram feed is anything to go by.
Trump had his own reaction to the gossip session heard around the world. In the wake of the hot mic footage leaking out, Trump slammed Trudeau.
“Well he’s two-faced,” the president said on December 4.
Trump went on to speculate about Trudeau’s motivation for engaging in the gossip – namely, Canada’s failure to meet the recommended defence spending target of 2 per cent of gross domestic product.
“Trudeau, he’s a nice guy. I find him to be a nice guy, but the truth is, I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2 per cent, and I guess he’s not very happy about it. I mean, you were there. A couple of you were there,” Trump told reporters.
The criticism was yet another blow in a rocky relationship between the two leaders. In a tweet sent out after the June G7 meeting, Trump said Trudeau had acted “meek and mild” during G7 meetings only to call the tariffs “insulting” during press conferences after the fact.
“Very dishonest & weak,” Trump tweeted at the time.
However, by the time Trudeau was re-elected in October 2019, Trump appeared to have changed his tune.
“Congratulations to [Justin Trudeau] on a wonderful and hard fought victory. Canada is well served. I look forward to working with you toward the betterment of both of our countries!” Trump tweeted on October 22, last year.
Come November 3, Trudeau will likely be sending out a similar congratulatory message to one of these two men — launching the beginning of many more quotes, for better or for worse.