Former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington on March 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jose Luis Magana

Feds learned by accident of Harper’s plans to visit White House next week

Former prime minister Stephen Harper is reportedly planning a trip to the White House next week, bucking convention.

The Trudeau government only found out by accident that former prime minister Stephen Harper was planning to visit the White House next week in the midst of a looming trade war between Canada and the United States.

According to one senior official, Harper himself didn’t mention the visit, bucking convention by not informing the Canadian government.

Instead, the Canadian embassy in Washington got a call from John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, asking who would be accompanying the prime minister to the meeting on Monday.

Baffled, the embassy contacted the Prime Minister’s Office, to see if Justin Trudeau had somehow forgotten to mention he was heading to Washington.

Trudeau’s foreign policy adviser, John Hannaford, then contacted his counterpart in the White House, who eventually apologized for the mixup and explained it was former prime minister Harper who would be visiting.

Harper’s office did not respond to a request for comment and it wasn’t clear Thursday whether the meeting is still scheduled to take place Monday — one day after Canada’s retaliatory tariffs on imports of a wide range of U.S. goods, and as well as steel and aluminum, are set to come into effect.

Nor was it clear whether Harper might have been planning to meet with anyone else at the White House or what he intended to talk about.

Related: Harper plans visit to White House without telling Canadian government

Related: Two PMs in one U.S. capital to talk NAFTA

As president of the International Democrat Union, an alliance of right-of-centre political parties around the globe, there may have been any number of issues Harper would want to address, including Israel and Iran.

The visit to the U.S. capital comes amid heightened tensions between Canada and the U.S. over the prospect of a trade war.

Talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement have stalled since Trump last month imposed a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports from Canada and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminum imports.

Trump has since threatened to impose more tariffs on Canadian-made automobiles and dairy.

And he and other administration officials have also engaged in personal attacks against Trudeau in speeches and on political talk shows and social media.

In Montreal on Thursday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau noted that opposition parties have united behind the government in its response to U.S. tariffs and threats of a trade war.

“We speak with one voice, and we certainly hope that will continue to be the case, and we fully expect it to be the case,” he said.

Harper was a team player earlier this month when he appeared on Fox News to defend Canada’s trade relationship with the U.S. He suggested that Canada “is the wrong target” for Trump’s wrath over unfair trade practices.

However, in a memo to clients last fall entitled “Napping on NAFTA,” Harper accused the Trudeau government of bungling negotiations on the continental trade pact.

Asked Thursday if Harper should have advised the government that he planned to visit the White House, Garneau said: “Mr Harper is a private citizen and I’m sure he’s sensitive to those things because he’s a former prime minister himself.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Provincial government needs to fund search and rescue: CRD

CRD board wants NCLGA resolution calling on the province to ensure secured funding is in place for SAR groups

100 Mile House Soccer Association has more players signed up at this point than last season

Overall, the association has 140 kids signed up but the number to beat is 300

100 Mile House and District Council considers immigration pilot program

Over 30 communities will participate in Regional Entrepreneur Immigration Pilot Program

Former 100 Mile Curling Club member to represent province

Hannah Lindner played at the club from 2008 to 2015

100 Mile Bantam House Royals lose 3-1 in final

Last year, the team lost every single game. This year they won all but one.

Mueller finds no Trump collusion, leaves obstruction open

But while Mueller fully ruled out criminal collusion, he was more circumspect on presidential obstruction of justice

Woman wants Tofino to get a nude beach

“They may enjoy a surf and then walk around naked and just be free.”

Ice climbers scale Canada’s tallest waterfall on Vancouver Island

Ice climbers Chris Jensen, Will Gadd and Peter Hoang made history

New Coast Guard ship crashes into breakwater in Victoria

‘It is fairly unprecedented that it would happen’

Sparks fly as SUV speeds wrong way down Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

B.C. doctor fined $5,000 for accessing records of woman pregnant with his child

Doctor admits to accessing records of the woman carrying his child

Video service to compete with Netflix, Amazon expected from Apple on Monday

The iPhone has long been Apple’s marquee product and main money maker, but sales are starting to decline

Edmonton judge to rule on whether Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Canada’s top court ruled punishment handed Khadr for alleged acts committed in Afghanistan when he was 15 was to be a youth sentence

Most Read