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Politics Politics Briefing: Trudeau and Trump talk trade and tensions

Good morning,

You can pack a lot into a single phone call. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on the phone yesterday, about relations with China, among other things. Here are the range of things they spoke about, per a readout from the Prime Minister’s Office:

"Today, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, spoke with the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

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"The two leaders discussed the importance of trade and jobs, building upon the successful renegotiation of the new North American Free Trade Agreement. They reaffirmed their support for workers affected by the closure of General Motors plants in Canada and the United States, and discussed next steps in addressing steel and aluminum tariffs.

"The two leaders discussed their respective visits in December with military personnel serving abroad in support of peace and security, to Mali by the Prime Minister and to Iraq by the President.

"The two leaders discussed an extradition request made of Canada by the United States. They reaffirmed the importance of respecting judicial independence and the rule of law.

"The Prime Minister thanked the President for the strong statements of support by the United States in response to the arbitrary detention of two Canadians in China. The two leaders agreed to continue to seek their release.

“The Prime Minister and President undertook to remain in close contact on these and other issues.”

And here, for the record, is the, uh, slightly shorter White House summary of the call:

"President Trump spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today, during which the two discussed the unlawful detention of two Canadian citizens in China as well as bilateral trade issues.”

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U.S.-China trade talks continue.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Sticking with Mr. Trump for the moment, the U.S. President is set to give a televised address tonight at 9 p.m. ET in which he will likely try to sell his pitch for a US$5-billion wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. All the major broadcasters have agreed to air Mr. Trump’s address, and Democrats are asking for air time of their own.

Over in northern B.C., 14 people have been arrested as part of a demonstration against a proposed natural gas pipeline. Twenty Indigenous bands along the route agreed to work with TransCanada on the project, but a group backed by key Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs is opposed to it.

A cooling in the global economy means the Bank of Canada will likely hold interest rates steady this week and deliver a more pessimistic outlook than they have in recent months.

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the Prime Minister has not called a few by-elections – including one in Burnaby, B.C., in which Mr. Singh is running – because “I think that they’re afraid of facing the electorate, they’re afraid of facing the people of Burnaby South, facing their record,” Mr. Singh told The Globe.

And Queen’s Park correspondent Laura Stone has written an obituary for Bruce Kyereh-Addo, a promising young political staffer who died suddenly over the holidays at the age of 33. “To be both effective and to be well loved – those are not usually attributes you find together, but you found those with Bruce,” Environment Minister Rod Phillips said.

Toby Fyfe (The Globe and Mail) on the hard problems of governing: “Quite simply, a government alone cannot resolve complex problems such as climate change, reconciliation or gender equality – not to mention immigration, poverty and many other issues they did not invent – even with the best intentions, and certainly not in a four-year mandate. As Mr. Mulroney learned and Justin Trudeau is learning now, you do not even get much respect for trying.”

Tom Parkin (Maclean’s) on Jagmeet Singh’s long run for a House of Commons seat: “Trudeau’s delay game has blocked Singh from directly asking the Prime Minister about the cost of everyday life until well after the Commons returns on Jan. 28—perhaps even until after the budget is presented, usually near the end of February. Trudeau has played a cheap and petty game far beneath standards of acceptability.”

Azeezah Kanji (Ottawa Citizen) on China’s treatment of Uighurs: “Almost every aspect and stage of Uighur life has been placed under state scrutiny and control: from the communal, with the eyes of the state pervasive in Uighur mosques, neighbourhoods, and homes – to the cellular, with the coerced mass collection and databasing of Uighur DNA; from birth, with the banning of Muslim names for babies – to death, with the prohibition of Muslim funeral rites for the deceased. State officials’ characterizations of Islam as a ‘virus’ or ‘tumour’ to be eradicated are themselves manifestations of an extreme strain of virulent Islamophobia.”

Tina Park (The Globe and Mail) on finding peace on the Korean peninsula: “The multitude of challenges in North Korea requires a coherent long-term strategy. There is no clear blueprint to denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula. But our task is to focus on what really matters, especially for the lives of 75 million Koreans whose lives have been paralyzed by the war that never really ended in 1953.”

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