Advertisement

Justin Trudeau to shuffle top officials in preparation for Donald Trump presidency

Click to play video: 'Justin Trudeau speaks about relationship with the US ahead of Trump’s inauguration' Justin Trudeau speaks about relationship with the US ahead of Trump’s inauguration
WATCH ABOVE: Justin Trudeau speaks about relationship with the US ahead of Trump’s inauguration – Jan 16, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to promote a former army commander as he shuffles senior officials to help handle ties with the Trump administration, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Chief whip Andrew Leslie, who helps oversee members of the ruling Liberal Party in the House of Commons, will be made a member of the special cabinet committee on Canada-U.S. relations, said the source, who asked to remain anonymous because the news had not yet been made official.

READ MORE: Trudeau’s greatest challenge in 2017? Engaging with US while protecting Canada, Baird says 

Canada sends 75 per cent of its exports to the United States and could be badly hurt if President-elect Donald Trump follows through on promises to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement or impose an import tax.

Leslie, who has the rank of lieutenant general, headed the Canadian army from 2006 to 2010. One reason for giving him a more prominent role is his connections to the U.S. military, the person said.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: How this proposed US tax change could seriously hurt the Canadian economy

The Globe and Mail, which first reported the story, said Leslie knew Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn, a former army lieutenant-general, and retired Marine General James Mattis, the nominee for U.S. secretary of defense.

Trudeau last week announced that Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland would be his new foreign minister, with additional responsibility for NAFTA and ties with the United States. Freeland, a former business reporter with years of U.S. experience, has good connections in Washington.

WATCH: Trudeau not worried about possible trade war with Trump administration 

Click to play video: 'Trudeau not worried about possible trade war with Trump administration' Trudeau not worried about possible trade war with Trump administration
Trudeau not worried about possible trade war with Trump administration – Jan 17, 2017

Canadian diplomats and Trudeau aides have been trying to persuade the incoming Trump team that both nations would suffer from major changes to the trading relationship, given the deep ties between the two economies.

Story continues below advertisement

“There are millions of Canadian jobs that depend on the U.S. market, but there are also millions of American jobs that depend on smooth integration and flow back and forth across the border of goods and services,” said Trudeau.

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

“We are very confident … we are going to be able to find common ground to ensure that both of our economies prosper in the coming years,” he told a televised news conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

As part of the planned shuffle of officials, Trudeau will name Deputy Chief of Staff Jeremy Broadhurst – one of his closest aides – to be Freeland’s new chief of staff, said the person with knowledge of the matter.

WATCH: World leaders wary regarding Trump’s trade comments – except Russia

Click to play video: 'World leaders wary regarding Trump’s trade comments – except Russia' World leaders wary regarding Trump’s trade comments – except Russia
World leaders wary regarding Trump’s trade comments – except Russia – Jan 17, 2017

Trudeau’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. No one in Leslie’s office was available for comment.

Story continues below advertisement

Before running for election in the Canadian parliament, Freeland worked for Reuters, a unit of Thomson Reuters.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Alan Crosby

Sponsored content