September 10, 2017 11:29 am

‘Nobody’s on the same page’ in Washington: former RNC chairman

Canada needs to establish boundaries when negotiating with the Trump administration: Steele


The former chairman of the Republican National Committee is predicting that Washington will descend further into turmoil this fall as Congress continues to butt heads with “free-range” President Donald Trump.

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“There are a lot of things that are stacking up for both the House, Senate as well as the president, and nobody’s on the same page,” said Michael Steele in an interview with The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos.

“I think as we’ve already begun to see, as Congress has come back to town, the turbulence around the DACA issue and immigration, certainly the president’s push to do something still on health care, then you’ve got infrastructure and you’ve got tax reform. Oh, and there’s that debt ceiling question.”

WATCH: Many Republicans reportedly furious over Trump’s deal to raise debt ceiling

In the meantime, said the longtime Republican, everyone — including the Canadian government — will need to continue trying to predict Trump’s next move. That has proven extremely difficult.

“It’s hard, because you can’t rely on the old structures nor the old systems that would enable you to engage in the political conversation, to conduct your lobbying,” Steele noted.

“You don’t know at any given moment what the president’s agenda is, really, around an issue.”

As Canada works to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and to strengthen ties with Trump’s White House, Steele says our country needs to act as “an anchor” and continue making reasoned arguments that support Canadian interests — over and over if necessary.

READ MORE: NAFTA talks progress well in Mexico, will re-start in Ottawa Sept. 23

Trump has shown himself willing to be persuaded under the right circumstances, he said.

“Establish the boundaries and the parameters up front,” Steele suggested.

“Don’t allow for the free-range president to sort of go out and create a new space and then you have to come in and fill it … because the president is not grounded. He’s not grounded in the history of NAFTA, he’s not grounded in relationship with Canada. He just isn’t. That’s not a criticism, it’s just the reality.”

Watch Vassy Kapelos’ full interview with Michael Steele above.

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