Skip to main content


"We have a very outstanding trade relationship with Canada," U.S. President Donald Trump said at the White House yesterday afternoon, no doubt to the relief of those worried that his rhetoric about tearing up the North American Free Trade Agreement was aimed at Canada as much as Mexico. Instead, Mr. Trump said the trade deal only needed to be "tweaked" when it came to the U.S.'s northern neighbour. "It is a much less severe situation than what is taking place on the southern border," he said in a joint news conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A joint statement from the two leaders even repeated a common talking point from the Canadians -- that Canada is the top foreign market for 35 states -- which obscures a far more lopsided trade relationship.

> The Prime Minister's Office went all out with their charm offensive, giving Mr. Trump a picture of himself from 1981 with then-prime-minister Pierre Trudeau, as well as a piece of masonry from Parliament's West Block building that contained stone from an Ohio quarry. But the capstone was a joint initiative, proposed by the Canadians, to empower female business leaders -- involving none other than Ivanka Trump.

> And a Canadian official says Sarah Palin will not be U.S. ambassador. "We want someone who the White House will pick up the phone when he calls," a senior official told The Globe.


South of the 49th parallel, the tête-à-tête between the two leaders garnered far less attention: it didn't crack the front pages of the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, or Wall Street Journal. (It was, of course, the top story in Canadian newspapers.) Two British papers featured images from the meeting on their A1s, however: The Guardian with the photo of Mr. Trudeau looking at Mr. Trump's outstretched hand, and the Telegraph with a picture of Ivanka Trump looking at the PM.

> Pre-visit, publications opted to go the explanatory route, fleshing out Mr. Trudeau's biography and contrasting the two leaders. Post-visit some opted for straight coverage of events while others remarked on how Mr. Trump looked presidential. In U.S. media circles, the most talked about part of the joint press conference was what wasn't talked about.


> One of Mr. Trudeau's top aides -- who was his chief of staff from 2013 to 2015 -- has left the Prime Minister's Office to do government relations work in the private sector. "It's simply a time for me now to focus on family life and the next stage of my career," Cyrus Reporter told The Globe. The law firm that hired him says Mr. Reporter will help clients learn "how to successfully navigate Canada's increasingly nuanced regulatory landscape."

> The ethics commissioner has launched a second probe concerning the Prime Minister's holiday trip to the Aga Khan's private island.

> And Kevin O'Leary can, apparently, speak a little bit of French.


General Michael Flynn resigned from his national security adviser role late Monday night, becoming the first departure from the Trump White House and the second Trump aide to resign who had incredibly close ties with Russia. The White House is already looking at replacements, with former CIA director David Petraeus set to interview today. While serving in that role, Mr. Petraeus broke the law and gave classified information to his mistress. If he is chosen, he'll have to notify his probation officer within 72 hours.

> There's a new Treasury Secretary: former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin was narrowly confirmed 53-47. He'll be in charge of overhauling the tax code and dismantling financial regulations that were put in place following The Great Recession. Also confirmed Monday night was former Obama-era appointee David Shulkin to lead the Veteran Affairs Department. Mr. Shulkin was confirmed unanimously, in a rare display of bipartisanship in an otherwise contentious and divided cabinet confirmation process.

>  The fallout from the high-stakes, high-class dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe continues. Trump staffers used their phones' lights to read government documents while surrounded by guests and a Mar-a-Lago guest took a picture with the man responsible for carrying the nuclear codes. The Washington Post is calling the scene an "open air situation room."

> Mr. Trump's Labor nominee is in hot water with four GOP senators stating that they aren't ready to support fast-food executive Andrew Puzder's nomination. Opposition is gaining traction due to allegations of domestic violence against an ex-wife and Mr. Puzder's admission that he employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper.

> Washington D.C. attracts visitors year round but there is one place that's off limits for tourists: The White House. Dozens of members of Congress are urging the administration to restart official tours.

>And lawmakers in Oklahoma are debating a bill that would make women have to seek permission from a man to get an abortion.


Margaret Wente (The Globe and Mail): "Justin Trudeau was the very picture of Mr. Congeniality, positive and alert. Donald Trump looked as if he was struggling to stay awake. You couldn't blame him. Their news conference was a snoozer. Which means that it was a resounding triumph."

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail): "To Mr. Trump, it seems, Canada is one of the good guys of trade, along with Britain, not like his targets, Mexico and China, who are very, very bad. Mr. Trudeau looked a little relieved. Not overjoyed, but relieved."

John Ivison (National Post): "Credit to Justin Trudeau — he played his hand well. Seeking ways to charm Donald Trump, he hit on the ideal solution — present this most conceited of presidents with a picture of himself."

Andrew Cohen (The Globe and Mail): "On the eve of Valentine's Day, Mr. Trudeau had a heart-to-heart with a new friend he feared was already estranged. He got Mr. Trump's attention, if not his affection. It was a good first date."

Don Braid (Calgary Herald): "It's best not to get too euphoric over Monday's White House meeting between Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Genuinely encouraging as it was, real problems lie behind the friendly language."

Sarah Kendzior (The Globe and Mail): "As the U.S. sinks in its own incompetence and depravity, Canada will face an undue burden at our expense, whether symbolically as a pillar of democracy or pragmatically as it bears the brunt of the Trump administration's recklessness on trade and immigration."

This is the daily Globe Politics newsletter. Sign up to get it by e-mail each morning and let us know what you think.

Written by Chris Hannay and Mayaz Alam.