January 9, 2017 1:43 pm
Updated: January 9, 2017 7:50 pm

Team Trudeau meeting with Team Trump as inauguration, doubts over trade, loom

WATCH: Justin Trudeau’s top advisors met with top officials in Donald Trump’s transition team in a charm offensive aimed at preventing a trade war. The Liberal government is leaving no stone unturned to try and establish a good working relationship with the new administration from day one. As Shirlee Engel reports, Trump’s unpredictable, policy-by-twitter approach requires a new path to protecting Canada’s economic interests.

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Amid doubts about the future trading relationship between the United States and Canada, some of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s inner circle have been meeting with members of president-elect Donald Trump’s team.

A spokesman for the prime minister said meetings have been taking place “at every level” between the Canadian government and incoming American administration.

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That includes Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford, principal secretary Gerald Butts and Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. David McNaughton meeting with their counterparts.

READ MORE: Liberals ‘not worried’ about trade with U.S. in spite of Donald Trump’s protectionist tendencies

With two weeks to go before officially taking office, Trump is already making good on his pledge to push a protectionist agenda driven by one edict he has said will guide his time in office: Buy American, Hire American.

WATCH:  Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, talks with Global’s Sean O’Shea about whether President-elect Donald Trump’s aggressive statements about taxation on foreign production will influence the way Ford does business – specifically in Canada. 

Last week, Ford Motor Co. cancelled its plans to open a Mexican factory and added 700 jobs in Michigan after Trump criticised the company’s plan. Later in the week, Trump turned his attention to General Motors, which he said is shipping made-in-Mexico cars to the U.S. without penalty.

Trump has also pledged to either renegotiate or scrap the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, saying doing so is a top priority upon taking office Jan. 20.

Although his attention so far seems focused on Mexico, the third signatory to NAFTA, Canada has a lot of skin in the game.

READ MORE: Donald Trump tweet threatens ‘big border tax’ on General Motors, stocks fall almost immediately

Every single day, $2.4 billion worth of goods crosses between Canada and the U.S. In fact, Canada exports so much over the border, it amounts to nearly one-third of Canada’s GDP.

WATCH:  A primer on Canada-U.S. trade relations from The West Block 

Beyond meetings, Trudeau recently released a video to coincide with the swearing in of the 115th U.S. congress, in which he appealed to the emotional side of the countries’ relationship, saying Canada and America have “been friends for a long time” and “grew up together.”

Standing next to Trudeau in the video, McNaughton spoke of the strength the two countries can foster when combined.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau reaches out to U.S. Congress in video address

“We know that we are better off when we tackle challenges together,” he said.

Trudeau’s team has been somewhat secretive in providing any information about meetings between the two camps, unwilling to divulge exactly when or where the meetings took place or what topics were discussed.

WATCH: Justin Trudeau welcomes members of 115th U.S. Congress

And despite the meetings and videos, the Liberals continue to insist they are not worried about the future state of trade between Canada and the U.S.

In an interview with Global News’ The West Block this week, parliamentary secretary for international trade David Lametti repeated a message many Liberals, including Trudeau, have been touting since November’s elections – that Canada and the U.S. are bound by values, culture and integrated economies, and the unique relationship between the two countries should serve as a model for the world.

With a file from Reuters

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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