Photo of Donald Trump

The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Justin P.J. Trudeau of Canada

February 13, 2017

President Trump. Prime Minister Trudeau, on behalf of all Americans, I thank you for being with us today. It is my honor to host such a great friend, neighbor, and ally at the White House, a very special place. This year, Canada celebrates the 150th year of Confederation. For Americans, this is one of the many milestones in our friendship, and we look forward—very much forward, I must say—to many more to come.

Our two nations share much more than a border. We share the same values. We share the love—and a truly great love—of freedom. And we share a collective defense. American and Canadian troops have gone to battle together, fought wars together, and forged the special bonds that come when two nations have shed their blood together, which we have.

In these dangerous times, it is more important than ever that we continue to strengthen our vital alliance. The United States is deeply grateful for Canada's contribution to the counter-ISIS effort. Thank you. And we continue to work in common—and in common cause—against terrorism and work in common cooperation toward reciprocal trade and shared growth.

We understand that both of our countries are stronger when we join forces in matters of international commerce. Having more jobs and trade right here in North America is better for both the United States and is also much better for Canada. We should coordinate closely—and we will coordinate closely—to protect jobs in our hemisphere and keep wealth on our continent, and to keep everyone safe.

Prime Minister, I pledge to work with you in pursuit of our many shared interests. This includes a stronger trading relationship between the United States and Canada. It includes safe, efficient, and responsible cross-border travel and migration. And it includes close partnership on domestic and international security.

America is deeply fortunate to have a neighbor like Canada. We have before us the opportunity to build even more bridges and bridges of cooperation and bridges of commerce. Both of us are committed to bringing greater prosperity and opportunity to our people.

We just had a very productive meeting with women business leaders from the United States and Canada, where we discussed how to secure everything that we know the full power of women can do better than anybody else. We know that. I just want to say, Mr. Prime Minister, that I'm focused—and you're focused—on the important role women play in our economies. We must work to address the barriers faced by women and women entrepreneurs, including access to capital, access to markets, and very importantly, access to networks.

In our discussion today, we will focus on improving the ways our Government and our governments together can benefit citizens of both the United States and Canada and, in so doing, advance the greater peace and stability of the world.

Mr. Prime Minister, I look forward to working closely with you to build upon our very historic friendship. There are incredible possibilities for us to pursue, Canada and the United, States together. Again, thank you for joining us, and I know our discussions will be very, very productive for the future of both countries.

Mr. Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Trudeau. Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you very much for joining us.

I'd first like to start by extending my sincere thanks to President Trump for inviting me down to Washington. Any day I get to visit our southern neighbors is a good day in my book, particularly when it's so nice and warm compared to what it is back home. We are suffering under a significant winter storm that's hitting our Atlantic Provinces particularly harsh, so I just want to send everyone back at home my thoughts as they shovel out and impress on everyone to stay safe.

[At this point, Prime Minister Trudeau spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows.]

The President and myself have had a very productive first meeting today. We had the opportunity to get to know one another better, and more importantly, we had the opportunity to talk about the unique relationship between Canada and the United States.

[Prime Minister Trudeau spoke in English as follows.]

[Inaudible]—friends on both sides of the 49th parallel have understood that the bond between our nations is a special one. No other neighbors in the entire world are as fundamentally linked as we are. We've fought in conflict zones together, negotiated environmental treaties together, including 1991's historic Air Quality Agreement. And we've entered into groundbreaking economic partnerships that have created good jobs for both of our peoples.

Canadians and Americans alike share a common history as well as people-to-people ties that make us completely and totally integrated. Our workers are connected by trade, transportation, and cross-border commerce. Our communities rely on each other for security, stability, and economic prosperity. Our families have long lived together and worked together. We know that, more often than not, our victories are shared. And just as we celebrate together, so too do we suffer loss and heartbreak together.

Through it all, the foundational pillar upon which our relationship is built is one of mutual respect. And that's a good thing, because as we know, relationships between neighbors are pretty complex, and we won't always agree on everything. But because of our deep, abiding respect for one another, we're able to successfully navigate those complexities and still remain the closest of allies and friends. Make no mistake: At the end of the day, Canada and the U.S. will always remain each other's most essential partner.

And today's conversations have served to reinforce how important that is for both Canadians and Americans. As we know, 35 U.S. States list Canada as their largest export market, and our economies benefit from the over $2 billion in two-way trade that takes place every single day. Millions of good, middle class jobs on both sides of the border depend on this crucial partnership. Maintaining strong economic ties is vital to our mutual success, and we're going to continue to work closely together over the coming years so that Canadian and American families can get ahead. [Prime Minister Trudeau spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows.]

As we know, 35 U.S. States list Canada as their largest export market, and our economies benefit from the over $2 billion in two-way trade that takes place every single day. Millions of good, middle class jobs on both sides of the border depend on this crucial partnership. Maintaining strong economic ties is vital to our mutual success, and we're going to continue to work closely together over the coming years so that Canadian and American families can get ahead.

[Prime Minister Trudeau spoke in English as follows.]

I'd like to highlight just a few of the specifics that President Trump and I discussed today. At the end of the day, the President and I share a common goal. We both want to make sure that hard-working folks can go to work at a good job, put food on the table for their families, and save up to take a vacation every once in a while. That's what we're trying to do here.

Today we reiterated that our nations are committed to collaborating on energy infrastructure projects that will create jobs while respecting the environment. And as we know, investing in infrastructure is a great way to create the kind of economic growth that our countries so desperately need.

In that same vein, we know that ensuring equal opportunities for women in the workforce is essential for growing the economy and maintaining American and Canadian competitiveness on the world stage. As such, the President and I have agreed to the creation of the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. This initiative is more than just about dollars and cents. This is about ensuring that women have access to the same opportunities as men and prioritizing the support and empowerment of women who are senior business leaders and entrepreneurs. In doing so, we'll grow the Canadian and American economies and help our businesses prosper.

[Prime Minister Trudeau spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows.]

Finally, President Trump and myself have agreed to work together to fight against the traffic of opioids across our border. The rise of illegal use of opioids in our society is nothing less than a tragedy. We will do everything we can to ensure the safety of Canadians and Americans.

Ladies and gentlemen, President Trump: I know that if our countries continue to work together, our people will greatly benefit from this cooperation.

[Prime Minister Trudeau spoke in English as follows.]

History has demonstrated time and again that in order to tackle our most pressing issues, both foreign and domestic, we must work with our closest allies, learn from each other, and stand in solidarity as a united voice.

With a level of economic and social integration that is unmatched on the world stage, Canada and the United States will forever be a model example of how to be good neighbors. Winston Churchill once said, "That long Canadian frontier from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, guarded only by neighborly respect and honorable obligations, is an example to every country and a pattern for the future of the world." That, my friends, is the very essence of the Canada-U.S. relationship.

I look forward to working with President Trump over the coming years to nurture and build upon this historic partnership. Once again, it's a tremendous pleasure to be here in Washington. Merci beaucoup.

President Trump. Okay, we'll take a couple of questions. Scott Thuman [WJLA, Sinclair Broadcasting Group]. Scott.

Canada-U.S. Relations

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

President Trump. Thank you.

Q. You just spoke about the desire to build bridges, although there are some notable and philosophical differences between yourself and Prime Minister Trudeau. I'm curious, as you move forward on issues from trade to terrorism, how do you see this relationship playing out? And are there any specific areas with which during your conversations today you each decided to perhaps alter or amend your stances already on those sensitive issues like terrorism and immigration?

And, Prime Minister Trudeau, while only in its infancy so far, how do you see this relationship compared to that under the Obama administration?

President Trump. Well, we just began discussions. We are going to have a great relationship with Canada, maybe as good or better, hopefully, than ever before. We have some wonderful ideas on immigration. We have some, I think, very strong, very tough ideas on the tremendous problem that we have with terrorism. And I think when we put them all together, which will be very, very quickly—we have a group of very talented people—we will see some very, very obvious results. We're also doing some cross-border things that will make it a lot easier for trade and a lot better and a lot faster for trade.

We have—through technology, we have some really great ideas, and they'll be implemented fairly quickly.

Prime Minister Trudeau. One of the things we spoke about was the fact that security and immigration need to work very well together. And certainly, Canada has emphasized security as we look towards improving our immigration system and remaining true to the values that we have. And we had a very strong and fruitful discussion on exactly that.

There's plenty that we can draw on each other from in terms of how we move forward with a very similar goal, which is to create free, open societies that keep our citizens safe. And that's certainly something that we're very much in agreement on.

Tonda MacCharles [Toronto Star].


Q. Good afternoon, Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister. And, Mr. Prime Minister, could you answer in English and French for us, please?

A little bit of a follow-on on my American colleague's question. President Trump, you seem to suggest that Syrian refugees are a Trojan horse for potential terrorism, while the Prime Minister hugs refugees and welcomes them with open arms. So I'd like to know, are you confident the northern border is secure? President Trump. You can never be totally confident. But through the incredible efforts—already, I see it happening—of formerly General Kelly, now Secretary Kelly, we have really done a great job. We're actually taking people that are criminals—very, very hardened criminals in some cases, with a tremendous track record of abuse and problems—and we're getting them out. And that's what I said I would do. I'm just doing what I said I would do when we won by a very, very large electoral college vote.

And I knew that was going to happen. I knew this is what people were wanting. And that wasn't the only reason, that wasn't my only thing that we did so well on. But that was something was very important. And I said we will get the criminals out, the drug lords, the gang members. We're getting them out.

General Kelly, who is sitting right here, is doing a fantastic job. And I said at the beginning, we are going to get the bad ones—the really bad ones, we're getting them out. And that's exactly what we're doing.

I think that in the end everyone is going to be extremely happy. And I will tell you right now, a lot of people are very, very happy right now.

Prime Minister Trudeau. Canada has always understood that keeping Canadians safe is one of the fundamental responsibilities of any government. And that's certainly something that we're very much focused on.

At the same time, we continue to pursue our policies of openness towards immigration, refugees, without compromising security. And part of the reason we're—we have been successful in doing that over the past year—welcoming close to 40,000 Syrian refugees—is because we have been coordinating with our allies, the United States and around the world, to demonstrate that security comes very seriously to us. And that's something that we continue to deal with.

[Prime Minister Trudeau spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows.]

It is clear that if you want to have a healthy and secure society or safe society, you have to make sure that you maintain—that you focus on security. And we have welcomed refugees from Syria. We have been very successful, but we have always taken our responsibility toward security very seriously. And our allies, including the United States, understand this focus very well. And they have done so since the very beginning.

President Trump. Kaitlan Collins [Daily Caller], please.

U.S. National Security/North Korea/Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan/Immigration

Q. Thank you. President Trump, now that you've been in office and received intelligence briefings for nearly 1 month, what do you see as the most important national security matters facing us?

And, Prime Minister Trudeau, you've made very clear that Canada has an open-door policy for Syrian refugees. Do you believe that President Trump's moratorium on immigration has merit on national security grounds?

President Trump. Okay. Thank you. Many, many problems. When I was campaigning, I said it's not a good situation. Now that I see it—including with our intelligence briefings—we have problems that a lot of people have no idea how bad they are, how serious they are, not only internationally, but when you come right here. Well, I mean, obviously, North Korea is a big, big problem, and we will deal with that very strongly. We have problems all over the Middle East. We have problems just about every corner of the globe, no matter where you look. I had a great meeting this weekend with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and got to know each other very, very well—extended weekend, really. We were with each other for long periods of time and our staffs and representatives.

But on the home front, we have to create borders. We have to let people that can love our country in, and I want to do that. We want to have a big, beautiful, open door, and we want people to come in and come in our country. But we cannot let the wrong people in, and I will not allow that to happen during this administration. And people—citizens of our country—want that, and that's their attitude too, I will tell you.

We are getting such praise for our stance, and it's a stance of common sense—maybe a certain toughness, but it's really more than toughness, it's a stance of common sense—and we are going to pursue it vigorously. And we don't want to have our country have the kinds of problems that you're witnessing taking place not only here, but all over the world. We won't stand for it. We won't put up for—with it. We're just not going to let it happen. We're going to give ourselves every bit of chance so that things go well for the United States. And they will go well. Thank you.

Prime Minister Trudeau. Canada and the United States have been neighbors a long time, and Canadians and Americans have stood together, worked together at home and around the world. We've fought and died together in battlefields in World War I and World War II, in Korea, in Afghanistan. But there have been times where we have differed in our approaches, and that's always been done firmly and respectfully.

The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves. My role, our responsibility, is to continue to govern in such a way that reflects Canadians' approach and be a positive example in the world.

President Trump. Okay.

Prime Minister Trudeau. Richard Latendresse [Groupe TVA].

Canada-U.S. Trade/Mexico-U.S. Trade/Job Creation

Q. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. I'll ask my question in French first, and then, for you, I'll get—again in English.

[The reporter spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows.]

Mr. Prime Minister, if I heard you correctly, you said that Canadian businesses, Canadian workers are concerned for their businesses and for their work and jobs concerning the renegotiation of NAFTA. So what guarantees did you get from this government that we will keep our jobs and our businesses in the renegotiation of NAFTA?

[The reporter spoke in English as follows.]

Mr. President, again, during the last 3 months, you have denounced NAFTA. You have talked over and over about the Mexican portion of the agreement, very little about the Canadian one. My questions in two short part is, is Canada a fair trader? And when you talk about changes to NAFTA concerning Canada, are we again—are you talking about big changes or small changes? Thank you.

[Prime Minister Trudeau spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows.]

Prime Minister Trudeau. First of all, Richard, thank you for your question. It is a real concern for many Canadians because we know that our economy is very dependent on our bonds, our relationship with the United States. Goods and services do cross the border each way every single day, and this means a lot of millions of jobs for Canadians and good jobs for Canadians. So we are always focusing on these jobs, but there are also good jobs, millions of jobs, in the United States that depend on those relationships between our two countries.

So when we sit down as we did today, and as our teams will be doing in the weeks and months to come, we will be talking about how we can continue to create good jobs for our citizens on both sides of the border. And during this exercise, we continue to understand that we have to allow this free flow of goods and services, and we have to be aware of the integration of our economies, which is extremely positive for both our countries. And this is the focus that we will have in the coming weeks and months to come.

[Prime Minister Trudeau spoke in English as follows.]

Canadians are rightly aware of the fact that much of our economy depends on good working relationships with the United States, a good integration with the American economy. And the fact is, millions of good jobs on both sides of the border depend on the smooth and easy flow of goods and services and people back and forth across our border.

And both President Trump and I got elected on commitments to support the middle class, to work hard for people who need a real shot at success. And we know that by working together, by ensuring the continued effective integration of our two economies, we are going to be creating greater opportunities for middle class Canadians and Americans now and well into the future.

President Trump. I agree with that a hundred percent. We have a very outstanding trade relationship with Canada. We'll be tweaking it. We'll be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries. It's a much less severe situation than what's taken place on the southern border. On the southern border, for many, many years, the transaction was not fair to the United States. It was an extremely unfair transaction. We're going to work with Mexico; we're going to make it a fair deal for both parties. I think that we're going to get along very well with Mexico; they understand, and we understand.

You probably have noticed that Ford is making billions of dollars of new investments in this country. You saw Intel the other day announce that because of what I've been doing and what I'm doing in terms of regulation—lowering taxes, et cetera—they're coming in with billions and billions of dollars of investment and thousands of thousands of jobs. General Motors, likewise, is expanding plants and going to build new plants. Fiat Chrysler was at a meeting where they're doing the same. Jack Ma—we have so many people that want to come into the United States. It's actually very exciting.

I think it's going to be a very exciting period of time for the United States and for the workers of the United States, because they have been truly the forgotten man and forgotten women. It's not going to be forgotten anymore, believe me.

So our relationship with Canada is outstanding, and we're going to work together to make it even better. And as far as the southern border is concerned, we're going to get that worked

out. We're going to make it fair, but we are going to make it so that everybody is happy. It's very important to me.

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President's news conference began at 2:16 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly; and Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman, Alibaba Group. He also referred to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist organization.

Donald J. Trump, The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Justin P.J. Trudeau of Canada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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