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Trump calls Trudeau ‘two faced,’ ‘very nice guy’ after candid video surfaces

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Dec 5th, 2019

Donald Trump called Justin Trudeau “two-faced” but also a “very nice guy” after the Canadian prime minister was caught on video seemingly talking critically with other world leaders about the U.S. president.

The video was shot during a reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday night, hours after Trudeau and Trump met on the sidelines of a gathering of leaders from the NATO military alliance. It immediately sparked concerns about a possible backlash against Canada from the prickly president.

The footage shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking France’s President Emmanuel Macron why he was late, to which Trudeau can be heard saying: “He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.”

The leaders do not use Trump’s name, but the U.S. president took dozens of questions from journalists on Tuesday during impromptu news conferences at the starts of his individual meetings with Macron, Trudeau and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Trump’s public appearance with Trudeau lasted more than half an hour and included questions about China and the impeachment process and also saw the Canadian prime minister trying to deflect questions from the U.S. president about Canada’s defence spending.

The reception footage also shows Trudeau saying “his team’s jaws drop to the floor” about someone, though it’s not completely certain whom he’s talking about.

During a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, Trump was asked about Trudeau’s comments, to which the U.S. president responded: “He’s two-faced.”

But the president, who has never shied away from lashing out over perceived insults, including from other world leaders, quickly added: “But honestly, with Trudeau, he’s a nice guy. I’ve found him to be a very nice guy.”

Trump went on to suggest Trudeau was upset that the U.S. president had called out Canada for not spending two per cent of its gross domestic product — a common measure of national wealth — on its military, as all NATO allies have agreed to do.

“He’s not paying two per cent and he should be paying two per cent,” Trump said. “It’s Canada, they have money and they should be paying two per cent. So I called him out on that and I’m sure he’s wasn’t happy about that, but that’s the way it is.”

Canada is currently spending 1.31 per cent of its GDP on defence.

The surprisingly gentle rebuke — at least by Trump’s standards — follows concerns Trudeau’s comments could result in a backlash against Canada from the president, who only this week blasted French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron had suggested the NATO alliance was suffering from “brain death” because of a lack of communication and co-ordination, particularly with regards to U.S. and Turkish actions in northeastern Syria.

Trump described Macron’s comments as “very nasty” before criticizing France’s economy and warning the European country needed NATO far more than the U.S.

The U.S. president also previously attacked Trudeau following the G7 summit in Quebec City in June 2018, describing the prime minister as “so meek and mild” amid a trade row over Canadian dairy and American tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, and then accusing him of making false statements once Trump was gone.

“Very dishonest & weak,” Trump tweeted.

The new video nonetheless threatened to undermine not only Trudeau’s efforts to boost the NATO alliance at a time of internal divisions and external threats, but also Canada’s own relations with the White House.

At his summit-ending news conference, Trudeau said he has a very good and constructive relationship with Trump that has allowed them to move forward on the renewed NAFTA deal and steel tariffs which the U-S lifted.

Trudeau also announced Canada would make a full fighter-jet squadron and several naval warships available for a NATO deployment on 30 days notice as the alliance seeks to boost its ability to respond rapidly to emergencies.

The video of Trudeau, who was speaking to Johnson, Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Princess Anne, quickly went viral after it was released and was reported on by international media outlets, including the New York Times, Fox News and the BBC.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole criticized the prime minister on Twitter, saying: “I am taking the side of comporting oneself with professionalism on the world stage when you represent more than just yourself.”

Yet others praised the prime minister for what they saw as his speaking the truth about Trump, who is deeply unpopular in many quarters.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made no reference to Trudeau’s exchange as he formally ended the summit.

Members reiterated the alliance’s founding principle that an attack on one represents an attack on all, and recommitted to spending more on defence.

Stolen vehicle crashes into another while fleeing police, 1 injured

News Staff | posted Thursday, Dec 5th, 2019

One person was injured when a stolen vehicle collided with another in Mississauga on Wednesday night.

Peel police say officers were trying to stop the stolen vehicle around 8 p.m. near the Highway 410 off ramp and Derry Road.

The driver attempted to flee in the stolen vehicle when it crashed into the other vehicle. The person in the other vehicle was taken to hospital with minor injuries

The driver of the stolen vehicle fled on foot but was found by police a short distance away and arrested.

“We do believe there was a second occupant in the vehicle that was travelling as a passenger and officers are in the area searching for this passenger,” Const. Akhil Mooken told 680 NEWS.

Road closures are in effect in the area.

 

Liberals to emphasize common ground in throne speech as Parliament resumes

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Dec 5th, 2019

The 43rd session of Parliament — and a new era of minority government — opens Thursday with a speech from the throne that will emphasize the issues on which Justin Trudeau’s Liberals believe they can find common ground with opposition parties.

The throne speech is penned by the Prime Minister’s Office but is to be read by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette in the Senate chamber.

Government sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the speech, say it will aim to set a collaborative tone, as befits a government that will need the support of one or more opposition parties to pass legislation and survive confidence votes.

The speech is to give only a rough sketch of the priorities that will drive the government in the days to come.

Some of the details will be filled in when Trudeau issues marching orders to each of his 36 cabinet ministers in mandate letters, expected as soon as Friday.

The speech is expected to highlight Liberal commitments to stronger action to combat climate change, tax breaks for the middle-class, pharmacare and stricter gun control, all of which featured in the platforms of the New Democrats, Bloc Quebecois and Greens.

The Liberals will need the support of either the 32 Bloc Quebecois MPs or the NDP’s 24 MPs to pass legislation and survive confidence votes. The Greens, with just three MPs, can’t tip the balance one way or the other.

While the leaders of the three progressive parties have signalled varying degrees of willingness to collaborate with the Liberals, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer appears determined to give no quarter, viewing the new session of Parliament as a continuation of the election campaign.

“We are focused on one shared goal,” Scheer told his 120 fellow Tory MPs during a caucus meeting Wednesday. “Getting rid of a scandal-plagued, deficit-running Liberal government and replacing it with a Conservative government that puts Canadians first and will heal this country.”

The other leaders, meanwhile, are attempting to lay out conditions for propping up the Liberal minority while keeping in mind that none of their parties can afford another election now and that voters would likely punish a party that foisted one on them.

Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has been clear that his party is in no rush to bring down the Liberal government, which has made it easier for NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to take a harder line, perhaps cognizant that smaller parties that prop up minority governments have historically received little thanks for it from voters.

“We are more than willing to work together, but we will not vote for something that doesn’t align with what Canadians need,” Singh said Wednesday, outlining the specifics he wants to see in the throne speech, including bolder targets for reducing carbon emissions and a firm commitment to national pharmacare.

The pomp and circumstance attending the opening of a new parliamentary session involves a lot of stately to-ing and fro-ing between the House of Commons and the Senate. This will be the first time since Parliament’s iconic Centre Block closed for massive renovations that the ceremony will entail travel between two chambers that are now in separate buildings, three snowy blocks apart. Buses will be deployed to ferry MPs between chambers.

The proceedings are to get underway at 9 a.m. ET with the arrival of the deputy governor general in the Senate chamber. MPs will then be summoned by the Usher of the Black Rod to the Senate, only to be told Payette won’t speak to them until they elect a Speaker of the House of Commons. So, they’ll troop back to the Commons to get that done and return to the Senate later in the afternoon to hear Payette read the throne speech.

Halifax Liberal MP Geoff Regan, the Speaker during the last session of Parliament, is seeking re-election. He is up against at least one other Liberal, Anthony Rota, Conservatives Bruce Stanton and Joel Godin, and New Democrat Carol Hughes.

Ontario high schools re-open as teachers return to class after one-day strike

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Dec 5th, 2019

Ontario’s public high school teachers are expected to be back in class on Thursday following a one-day strike.

But the union representing them says Wednesday’s walkout could be the first of many if the government doesn’t change course in contract talks.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, which represents about 60,000 public high school teachers and support workers, says it is pushing back against government plans to increase class sizes and introduce mandatory e-learning courses.

The teachers are already conducting a work-to-rule campaign and say they would give five days’ notice before any further labour action.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce called the one-day strike unacceptable and urged the union to take part in private mediation.

Lecce has also said the union must bring new proposals to the bargaining table, not just reject the government’s offer.

City’s new $23.4B housing plan aims to help more than 340,000 households

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Dec 4th, 2019

Mayor John Tory is making big promises for the city’s housing plan.

On Tuesday, Tory unveiled the City of Toronto’s 10-year action plan on affordable housing.

The plan includes approving 40,000 new affordable rental homes, 18,000 new supportive housing units for vulnerable residents and 10,000 new affordable rental and supportive homes for women and girls.

Tory calls the plan a “comprehensive blueprint” that will help more than 340,000 households when it’s fully implemented.

However, in order to meet the project’s timeline, the mayor said it’s essential for all three levels of government to lock in their investments.

“The City of Toronto, under existing arrangements with respect to how we’re able to tax and invest, is simply not able to deal with these challenges on its own,” Tory explained.

The project is estimated to cost $23.4 billion.

The City’s commitment through current and future investments is proposed to be $8.5 billion over 10 years (including operating, capital investment and other financial tools).

Tory said he is “less certain at this stage” how much the city can count on the assistance from the provincial and federal governments.

“What we need to have is a definite commitment from the other governments that they too are going to participate over the 10 year plan to the extent of sharing the balance of the cost of these programs,” Tory said.

“I am going to be as determined an advocate in getting the funding for this series of initiatives as I was in getting the money from the federal government for the repair of Toronto Community Housing. But we need them to commit. We need them to commit sooner than later.”

On top of new affordable homes, the plan also includes ways to keep people in the homes in which they are already living. These include enhanced measures to prevent evictions, preserve the rental homes that currently exist, and adopting a new program definition of affordable housing based on income.

The plan would offer up more land — both existing and acquired. Only 11 sites are available at this point.

The blueprint goes to the Planning and Housing Committee next week.

Son of Soufi’s owner faces new charges connected to anti-Maxime Bernier protest

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 4th, 2019

Police in Hamilton have laid more charges and made an additional arrest in connection with a protest outside an event featuring People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier during the fall election campaign.

Investigators say a fourth suspect, 27-year-old Michael Lickers, has been arrested and charged with assault and intimidation, and is due in court on Christmas Eve.

One of the suspects previously arrested in the Sept. 29 incident, Alaa Al Soufi, is now also facing additional charges of assault, theft under $5,000, intimidation and disguise with intent.

Al Soufi, whose family temporarily shut down their Toronto restaurant amid backlash over his participation in the protest, was charged last month with two counts of intimidation, two of disguise with intent and one of causing a disturbance.

Police say the new charges against Al Soufi were laid after additional witnesses came forward and officers reviewed more video footage of the rally.

They have said about 100 protesters were outside the building at Mohawk College that night as people entered the venue.

Video showing Trudeau seemingly talking candidly about Trump goes viral

LEE BERTHIAUME AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 4th, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other foreign leaders have been caught on camera apparently talking candidly about U.S. President Donald Trump, with the footage now going viral and stoking fears of a backlash.

The video was shot during a reception at Buckingham Palace held Tuesday night in London, where leaders from NATO’s 29 countries are marking the 70th anniversary of the military alliance with two days of meetings and discussions.

In it, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson can be heard asking French President Emmanuel Macron why he was late, to which Trudeau says: “He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.”

The leaders do not use Trump’s name, but the U.S. president took dozens of questions from journalists on Tuesday during impromptu news conferences at the start of his individual meetings with Macron, Trudeau and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Trump’s impromptu news conference with Trudeau lasted more than half an hour, which included questions about China, the impeachment process and also saw the Canadian prime minister deflecting questions from the U.S. president about Canada’s defence spending.

The reception footage also shows Trudeau talking about “his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” though the subject isn’t clear.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trudeau is scheduled to hold a news conference at the end of the NATO summit on Wednesday.

The footage, shot by the British host’s pool camera, has since spread across the internet and been broadcast by international media such as Fox News and the New York Times, with observers suggesting Trudeau and the other leaders were mocking Trump.

That has prompted questions and concerns about how the mercurial U.S. president will react.

“By this point in his tenure, the prime minister should realize that events with pool cameras need to be approached and managed as on-the-record events,” Andrew MacDougall, former director of communications for prime minister Stephen Harper, wrote on Twitter.

“Hopefully this gaffe doesn’t wind the president up at a sensitive time for NAFTA and the Meng (Wanzhou)/Huawei file.”

Trump had not replied before the start of Wednesday’s closed-door meeting of NATO leaders, tweeting only about having enjoyed his meeting with Johnson during the previous night’s reception.

Trudeau was seen approaching the U.S. president prior to the meeting, where the two shook hands and exchanged a few words before going their separate ways.

While Trudeau has spent much of the past three years trying to establish a good relationship with Trump, the U.S. president has not shied away from lashing out any perceived slight from fellow world leaders.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump slammed Macron for having suggested the NATO alliance was suffering from “brain death” because of a lack of communication and co-ordination, particularly with regards to U.S. and Turkish actions in northeastern Syria.

Trump described Macron’s comments as “very nasty” before criticizing France’s economy and warning the European country needed NATO far more than the U.S. Other NATO leaders have been trying to bridge the divide and keep the alliance strong and united.

The U.S. president also previously attacked Trudeau following the G7 summit in Quebec City in June 2018, describing the latter as “so meek and mild” amid a trade row over Canadian dairy and American tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

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