NEW YORK – President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he rejected a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the United Nations General Assembly, but a spokeswoman for Trudeau’s government disputed that the meeting had ever been requested.
“Yeah, I did,” Trump said during a press conference in New York when asked if he has rejected the meeting. “His tariffs are too high and he doesn’t seem to want to move and I told him ‘forget about it’ and, frankly, we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada.”
Trump’s remarks came as the U.S. and Canada have struggled to negotiate a deal to replace the 1994 North America Free Trade Agreement. Trump’s administration has said it has reached an agreement with Mexico but talks have not proceeded as quickly with Trudeau’s government.
More: Trump starts clock on withdrawing from NAFTA as talks with Canada continue
Canada is the United States’ second-largest trading partner.
But a spokeswoman for Trudeau, Eleanore Catenaro, said Canada never requested the meeting in the first place.
“No meeting was requested,” she said in a statement Trump’s press conference. “We don't have any comment beyond that.”
Relations between the longtime allies and neighbors became more frosty during the G-7 meeting in Canada this summer. As he flew away from the meeting, Trump withdrew the United States from a joint document summarizing agreements made at the G-7 in response to comments Trudeau made at a press conference.
Trudeau said at the time that Canada would not be “pushed around” by the United States.
The relationship erupted again when off-the-record remarks Trump made during an interview with Bloomberg wound up published in the Toronto Star. Trump said in the interview that he was not compromising with Canada but could say that publicly because it would be insulting.
More: Journalist says Bloomberg not source of Trump's off-the-record remarks
Trump was more than willing to use blunt language during his press conference in New York.
“We’re very unhappy with the negotiations,” he said, “and the negotiating style of Canada.”