Sources confirmed to Global News that Canadian officials confronted their American counterparts at trade talks Friday about remarks allegedly made by U.S. President Donald Trump saying negotiations were “totally on our terms.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland did not comment directly on reports that Trump’s administration is not negotiating NAFTA in good faith, after the Toronto Star published off-the-record remarks from Trump.
According to the Star’s source, Trump said the possible NAFTA deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms.”
“Ambassador Lighthizer and his team throughout this negotiation have been working really, really hard,” Freeland said, minutes after news of Trump’s remarks began to leak out, “As I said, our starting position from the beginning, we’re very far apart.”
In a press conference Friday afternoon, Freeland said Canada and the U.S. were working hard to reach a compromise, and that the two countries “now understand each other’s position very well.”
She added that she has no doubt that Lighthizer and his team of negotiators were working “in good faith and good will,” while reiterating previous comments about the “intensity” of negotiations.
Trudeau said earlier that he still believes that a “win-win-win” deal can be reached.”We’re going to continue to operate constructively, in good faith around the table and we’re looking forward to signing the right deal for Canada,” Trudeau said.
WATCH: Trudeau reacts to Trump’s reported comments of no compromises, says will be constructive in NAFTA negotiations
The Toronto Star reported off-the-record remarks Trump allegedly made during an interview with Bloomberg News on Thursday, in which, according to the Star’s source, Trump says the U.S. is not compromising at all with Canada in NAFTA talks.
Trump tweeted about the comments Friday, saying “At least Canada knows where I stand!”
Trump later said Friday in North Carolina that his remarks were his own feelings on Canada and the NAFTA deal, and that those who reported his off-the-record comments were “dishonourable.”
Friday is the deadline Trump has set for Canada to accept the terms laid by the U.S. and Mexico in their own talks to replace NAFTA, threatening auto tariffs on Canada if no deal is reached.
WATCH: Chrystia Freeland says she is still looking for ‘win-win’ with NAFTA
In the off-the-record comments, Trump says that he cannot say publicly that the U.S. is not willing to compromise because it would be “so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal.”
Global News has not independently verified Trump’s remarks as written in The Toronto Star.
In another remark, according to the Star’s source, Trump suggested that he was scaring Canada into submission by repeatedly threatening to impose tariffs.
“Every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,” Trump said, according to the Star’s source, referring to a car made by General Motors in Oshawa, Ont.
In response to The Toronto Star’s report, a Bloomberg spokeswoman wrote in an email, “When we agree that something is off the record, we respect that.”
The White House responded to Trump’s off-the-record comments in a statement, but did not deny the language the Star reported that Trump used.
“The Canadian and American negotiators continue to work on reaching a win-win deal that benefits both countries,” said Lindsay Walters, White House deputy press secretary.
WATCH: Trudeau says government will defend auto workers as possible tariffs loom amid NAFTA negotiations
On Friday afternoon, the White House issued a notice of intention to enter into a trade agreement with Mexico, and possibly with Canada.
In a letter to the U.S. House and Senate, President Trump said his administration intends to enter into a NAFTA agreement by the end of November.
WATCH: Trump discusses Canada, open borders, Keystone and World Cup at fundraiser in North Carolina
Trump notified the two chambers of Congress that “I intend to enter into a trade agreement with Mexico — and with Canada if it is willing, in a timely manner, to meet the high standards for free, fair, and reciprocal trade contained therein.”
— With files from Rahul Kalvapalle