Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waded into escalating tensions between Germany and the United States on Tuesday, chiding world leaders who believe they can ignore climate change or “turn back the clock” in the age of globalization and automation.
On the final day of a week-long trip to Europe, Mr. Trudeau was lauded by Italian lawmakers for standing with his European allies at the G7 summit in support of free trade, migration and the Paris climate-change treaty.
In his speech, the Prime Minister spoke about curbing greenhouse gases, accepting refugees who flee famine and war, and supporting progressive free trade – ideas opposed by the “America First” Trump administration.
“The twin forces of technology and globalization are remaking the world; they’re creating possibilities that would have been unimaginable to our parents,” Mr. Trudeau told the Chamber of Deputies. “Leaders who think we can hide behind these changes or turn back the clock are wrong.”
The oblique criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump comes as the transatlantic war of words heated up between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr. Trump in the aftermath of the back-to-back NATO and G7 summits.
At the NATO meeting, Mr. Trump publicly scolded his allies for not spending enough on defence and he refused to sign a declaration in support of the Paris emissions treaty at the G7.
The German leader, who lambasted Mr. Trump as an unreliable ally on Sunday, delivered another broadside on Tuesday, calling on Europe to take on a bigger diplomatic role on the international stage.
Ms. Merkel also repeated her belief – after the NATO and G7 summits – that “we in Europe have to take our fate into our own hands.”
President Trump hit back with a furious tweet at Germany, complaining about its “massive trade deficit” with the United States.
“Plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO and military. Very bad for U.S. This will change,” Mr. Trump tweeted.
At a joint news conference in Rome, Mr. Trudeau and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni were asked whether they share the Merkel’s view of the U.S. President as unreliable.
“Certainly it is necessary for Europe to take into their own hands their future,” Mr. Gentiloni said, expressing European frustrations with the Trump presidency, especially on climate change.
“This takes nothing away from the importance of our trans-Atlantic ties and our alliance with the United States, but the importance on these ties cannot mean that we abandon fundamental principles such as our commitment to fight climate change and in favour of open societies and free trade,” he added.
Mr. Trudeau was more muted, saying it was important for G7 allies to have “open and robust” discussions, although he made it clear Canada does not agree with Mr. Trump’s skepticism about climate change, which the President once called a hoax.
“The only way to move forward is to protect the environment while creating the jobs we need for today and tomorrow,” Mr. Trudeau said.
In his speech to Italy’s Parliament, the Prime Minister called the Canada-Europe free trade pact “the blueprint for future ambitious trade deals” with far-reaching protections for workers, consumers, natural resources and the environment.
“That’s what progressive leadership does in moments like this,” he said.
Mr. Trudeau’s staunch defence of global trade comes as Canada is facing a series of bilateral trade disputes initiated by the Trump administration involving lumber, aerospace, steel and aluminum. Mr. Trump has also given Congress 90 days’ notice to begin talks on renegotiating the North American free trade agreement.
Pietro Grasso, the President of the Italian Senate, introduced Mr. Trudeau, warning about the “worrying isolation and protectionism sentiment that we heard at the G7 summit.”
Mr. Grasso’s comments reflect mounting concerns in Europe that the Trump presidency threatens the Western alliance and the global free-trade system.
In Germany, Martin Schulz, the leader of the centre-left Social Democrats, told reporters that Mr. Trump was a “destroyer of values” and was undermining allied co-operation.
Thomas Oppermann, head of the Social Democrats’ parliamentary group, said “Donald Trump makes clear with his tweet that he views Germany as a political opponent.”
ROBERT FIFE – OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF
ROME — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, May 30, 2017 1:16PM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, May 30, 2017 4:00PM EDT