WASHINGTON, D.C.—Premier Doug Ford was in the U.S. capital Wednesday, but refused to get pulled into the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who was caught on cameras with other world leaders appearing to laugh at President Donald Trump.
Asked about it during a brief chat with reporters on the steps of the Canadian embassy, Ford resisted the impulse to take a shot at his sometimes federal political rival. “That’s going to be up to the prime minister and the president. I’m staying out of this one. And, you know, they may have their differences, but I’m sure they’re gonna work things out,” Ford said.
Trudeau was seen on video taken Tuesday night during a Buckingham Palace reception for NATO leaders. It shows Trudeau talking with French President Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Princess Anne. Their conversation appears to be about Trump.
Ford had just emerged from a meeting with acting Canadian ambassador Kirsten Hillman to discuss the progress of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, (USMCA) — the trade deal set to replace NAFTA — and expressed confidence a deal would be completed either by the end of the year, or in the early weeks of 2020. The deal is currently awaiting ratification in Congress.
Ford and his Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott were in Washington on what a member of the premier’s staff called a “relationship building” visit to promote Ontario as a trading partner. On Tuesday, Scott spoke at a conference on public private partnerships, promoting Infrastructure Ontario’s expertise with such arrangements. Ford and Scott were set to meet on Wednesday afternoon with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is the chair of the National Governors Association.
“We always promote trade in Ontario. We’re the number one trading partner to 19 states, number two to nine others. We do $391 billion a year in two-way trade. We’re number three — if we were a stand-alone country, we’d be number three in the world. So we play an important role, we indirectly employ 9 million people through the trade down in the U.S.,” Ford said. “We look forward — for the first time we’re hosting all the governors up in Toronto in April, we’re excited to have them up there,” he said, of a planned 2020 visit by the National Governors Association. “We’re going to treat them just like royalty when they come up.”
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