Former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington on March 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jose Luis Magana

Feds learned by accident of Harper’s plans to visit White House next week

Former prime minister Stephen Harper is reportedly planning a trip to the White House next week, bucking convention.

The Trudeau government only found out by accident that former prime minister Stephen Harper was planning to visit the White House next week in the midst of a looming trade war between Canada and the United States.

According to one senior official, Harper himself didn’t mention the visit, bucking convention by not informing the Canadian government.

Instead, the Canadian embassy in Washington got a call from John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, asking who would be accompanying the prime minister to the meeting on Monday.

Baffled, the embassy contacted the Prime Minister’s Office, to see if Justin Trudeau had somehow forgotten to mention he was heading to Washington.

Trudeau’s foreign policy adviser, John Hannaford, then contacted his counterpart in the White House, who eventually apologized for the mixup and explained it was former prime minister Harper who would be visiting.

Harper’s office did not respond to a request for comment and it wasn’t clear Thursday whether the meeting is still scheduled to take place Monday — one day after Canada’s retaliatory tariffs on imports of a wide range of U.S. goods, and as well as steel and aluminum, are set to come into effect.

Nor was it clear whether Harper might have been planning to meet with anyone else at the White House or what he intended to talk about.

Related: Harper plans visit to White House without telling Canadian government

Related: Two PMs in one U.S. capital to talk NAFTA

As president of the International Democrat Union, an alliance of right-of-centre political parties around the globe, there may have been any number of issues Harper would want to address, including Israel and Iran.

The visit to the U.S. capital comes amid heightened tensions between Canada and the U.S. over the prospect of a trade war.

Talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement have stalled since Trump last month imposed a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports from Canada and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminum imports.

Trump has since threatened to impose more tariffs on Canadian-made automobiles and dairy.

And he and other administration officials have also engaged in personal attacks against Trudeau in speeches and on political talk shows and social media.

In Montreal on Thursday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau noted that opposition parties have united behind the government in its response to U.S. tariffs and threats of a trade war.

“We speak with one voice, and we certainly hope that will continue to be the case, and we fully expect it to be the case,” he said.

Harper was a team player earlier this month when he appeared on Fox News to defend Canada’s trade relationship with the U.S. He suggested that Canada “is the wrong target” for Trump’s wrath over unfair trade practices.

However, in a memo to clients last fall entitled “Napping on NAFTA,” Harper accused the Trudeau government of bungling negotiations on the continental trade pact.

Asked Thursday if Harper should have advised the government that he planned to visit the White House, Garneau said: “Mr Harper is a private citizen and I’m sure he’s sensitive to those things because he’s a former prime minister himself.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Duncan denies emergency shelter for women on Cairnsmore Street

Will look at a mobile shelter for women instead

Rob Douglas reveals 5-plank re-election campaign in bid for North Cowichan council seat

North Cowichan is making significant progress on a number of fronts.

Paul Fletcher announces candidacy for North Cowichan council

Sustainable economic development is what prodded Fletcher back into municipal affairs

Hurdles to bike-sharing program in North Cowichan, study continues

Will also consider adding electric bikes and scooters

Chemainus Theatre’s ‘Glorious!’ is, well, glorious

The tiny three-person cast of Glorious! deserve a huge standing ovation

U.S. congressman issues dire warning to Canada’s NAFTA team: time is running out

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to resume talks with the U.S.

Coming up in Cowichan: Arts, charity and health events heading to Valley

Free fitness, self-defence for women begins this month Warmland Women’s Support Services… Continue reading

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Cyclists finish North America trip to highlight Ukraine struggle

The 10,000 bike ride raised over $10,000 for victims of the war in Ukraine.

21 new paramedics promised for B.C. Interior

A total of 18 new full-time paramedics will be hired for Kamloops and three are being hired for Chase.

Federal stats show slight increase in irregular migrant claims in August

113 extra people tried to cross the Canadian border last month

Work begins to remove cargo from grounded Haida Gwaii barge and fishing lodge

Westcoast Resorts’ Hippa Lodge broke from its moorings and ran aground early this month

Tilray to export cannabis formulation to U.S. for clinical trial

Marijuana remains illegal in most of the U.S.

Most Read