It may have had appeal with his base back home, but U.S. President Donald Trump’s antics last week at the G-7 Quebec Summit and his flurry of insults and acrimony directed toward America’s closest allies are certainly unprecedented.
Any efforts that Western leaders made to present a united front on issues from trade to climate change policy to gender equality were thrown into turmoil, because of Trump’s insistence that the other world leaders play by his rules of engagement.
It was obvious from the outset of the summit that the U.S. president would have been just as content to pass up the summit because he had bigger fish to fry and a date with his new pal Little Rocket Man (Kim Jung Un) in Singapore earlier this week.
Trump arrived late for the Quebec meetings and left early, skipping out before the leaders started a working session on protecting the world's oceans and redoubling efforts to stave off catastrophic climate change. Trump also caused a stir even before his early departure by arriving late for the gender-focused breakfast session on Saturday, billed by Canadian officials as a chance for leaders to draft "concrete actions for the G7 to advance gender equality and women's empowerment.”
Probably the U.S. president’s most bizarre statement came on his arrival Friday when he suggested the summit would have been more meaningful with the presence of Russia at the table. Russia was expelled from the G8 four years ago after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in a move that was seen as a grave threat to the rest of Europe.
Despite the efforts of the other six world leaders to present overwhelmingly strong evidence of the damaging global impact of U.S. tariffs, Trump continued to insist it is the U.S. that is suffering at the hands of its trading partners.
French President Emmanuel Macron best summed up the frustration of the six leaders when he tweeted: “The American president may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a six-country agreement if need be. Because these six countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.”
What is most troubling about this standoff between the group of six and the U.S. president is Trump’s reckless pursuit of winning at all cost and his ego-driven and unpredictable nature. In typical Jekyll and Hyde fashion, Trump proclaimed the Quebec summit was tremendously successful prior to his departure and then tweeted from Air Force One just hours later that his host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was “very dishonest and weak” and has threatened to slap more tariffs on Canada.
Trump went ballistic simply because our prime minister stood before a post-G7 news conference and expressed the same polite criticism of the steel and aluminum tariffs, and same promise to stand up for Canadians, he had been expressing for over a week.
He and his ministers have described Trump’s tariffs as an insult given that they are officially being imposed on “national security” grounds. Like a school yard bully Trump has warned Canada “it’s going to cost you a lot of money.”
Unfortunately, despite Canada’s best efforts at diplomacy and a rational and reasoned approach at negotiation, trade relations with our closest ally and friend, the United States, are headed in a downward spiral because of one man’s irrational and unrealistic agenda.
Geoff deGannes is the past chairman of the Tantramar Radio Society. His daily commentaries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.