OTTAWA – The prime minister of the Netherlands is telling Canada’s parliament that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is a terrible idea.
Mark Rutte offered the view on the ongoing Brexit negotiations during a speech to the House of Commons in which he invoked the strong bonds between the two countries forged during the Second World War.
WATCH: Justin Trudeau welcomes Dutch PM Mark Rutte to Ottawa
“In Europe, we now face the great unknown of Brexit. Let me be totally honest, I still think it’s a terrible idea,” Rutte said in his speech, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looked on.
Rutte said the wide-ranging free trade deal between the EU and Canada is a progressive modern agreement made for the 21st century. He said it shows that trade does not have to be a “zero sum game.”
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The Dutch leader said his country and Canada helped build the international rules-based order that rose from the “ruins” of the Second World War, including NATO, the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.
He said the two countries share a commitment to free and fair trade, and the ongoing effort to make global institutions more relevant to people around the world feeling the ill effects of globalization. Rutte said “geopolitical shifts” need to be addressed.
Rutte didn’t mention Donald Trump by name, but his remarks appeared aimed at the U.S. President who has taken a rhetorical wrecking ball to international institutions.
But Rutte said that the U.S. can’t be blamed for asking other NATO countries to increase their defence spending – a case Trump has made loudly in the past.
Trudeau and Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan welcomed Rutte to Parliament Hill with full military honours.
The prime minister held a meeting with Rutte in his Parliament Hill office.
Trudeau and Rutte will also hold a business lunch on Parliament Hill.
This afternoon, the two leaders will participate in a town hall with students at Gloucester High School.