Former US ambassador to Canada: Navarro comments 'unconscionable'

Former US ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman said Monday that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro's comments about...

Posted: Jun 12, 2018 9:02 AM
Updated: Jun 12, 2018 9:03 AM

Former US ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman said Monday that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro's comments about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were "unconscionable."

Navarro said on "Fox News Sunday," "There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door."

"That's unconscionable," Heyman said on "CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin" Monday. "Anyone who represents the United States of America from the White House using that kind of language with any world leader of any type I think is uncalled for, but when you use it with your best friend, your next-door neighbor, your greatest ally, I think one of your singular best trading partners, I think that's completely uncalled for, unprofessional, and I call for today, an apology."

"I think he should apologize to the prime minister, but more importantly, he should apologize to the Canadian public," Heyman, who served under President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017, added, saying he was "deeply disappointed" to see what he called Navarro's lack of professionalism."

Navarro was responding to comments Trudeau made at the G7 summit. The Canadian prime minister said at a news conference Saturday that Canada will "move forward with retaliatory measures" on July 1 in response to the Trump administration's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, the European Union and Mexico.

"I have made it very clear to the President that it is not something we relish doing, but it something that we absolutely will do," Trudeau said. "Canadians, we're polite, we're reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around."

Trump responded to Trudeau in posts on Twitter Saturday, accusing the prime minister of making "false statements" and calling him "very dishonest" and "weak."

Navarro also said Trudeau is "weak and dishonest."

When asked if his were statements from the President, Navarro said they were his words, but they reflected "the sentiment that was on Air Force One."

The trade adviser's remarks also drew criticism from some US lawmakers and foreign allies.

"I thought (Navarro) should've kept his big mouth shut because I don't think that helps us inform policy and I think frankly it was out of line," Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, told CNN on Monday.

Sen. Susan Collins called Navarro's comments "completely unhelpful" towards negotiations with US allies.

"I'm very concerned about how personal the dispute has become between members of the White House staff -- and even the President himself -- and Justin Trudeau," Collins, R-Maine, told CNN. "It seems to me that despite our frictions with Canada -- and we have had trade disputes in the past and we have issues with the Canadian subsidies right now -- that we need to recognize that Canada has been a close friend, a reliable ally and is one of our biggest trading partners."

European Council President Donald Tusk used Navarro's phrasing in a tweet backing Trudeau later Sunday.

"There is a special place in heaven for @JustinTrudeau. Canada, thank you for the perfect organisation of G7!" Tusk tweeted.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in response to questions about comments criticizing Trudeau from both Navarro and White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, that she is thankful she is "not responsible for explaining the reasoning behind any comments made by the officials of any foreign government."

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