Ralph Goodale told journalists covering the G7 leaders’ summit that Trudeau raised the matter in a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday. He said Trudeau added that Canada would help if needed to make sure the peace deal is respected.
The comments come as Johnson faces accusations of trying to skirt the Northern Ireland protocol in place under Brexit rules, which aims to prevent a hard border being imposed between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to the south — a violation of the Good Friday Agreement.
“The Good Friday agreement is obviously important from Canada’s point of view,” said Goodale, adding the government is “very aware of the issue.”
“We know how complex those border issues are with respect to Ireland and Northern Ireland. We don’t underestimate the difficulty of finding a satisfactory resolution,” he continued.
“Prime Minister Johnson indicated his full confidence that it would be resolved satisfactorily.”
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The government had not indicated on Thursday whether Trudeau planned to raise the matter of Northern Ireland with Johnson at the G7 when asked by Global News.
A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau raised the matter with his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney during a call on Wednesday, but would not confirm whether Garneau raised the Northern Ireland protocol with his British counterpart at the G7 foreign ministers meeting in May.
Eamonn McKee, Irish ambassador to Canada, told Global News Ireland is “absolutely sure” that Canada supports the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol, noting he wasn’t surprised to see the U.S. administration voice its concerns earlier in the week.
McKee noted that Irish officials have gone to “extraordinary” lengths to be flexible with the U.K. and that this is not the first rough patch for officials to navigate in the relationship.
“We’ve been through difficult patches before. With a bit of goodwill and cooperation, we can go ahead.”
The Good Friday Agreement is the deal laying out terms for peace in Northern Ireland.
It established both the framework for power-sharing among the parties in Northern Ireland and the vow not to put a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to the south.
Maintaining that open border across the island of Ireland was a central point of concern in Brexit negotiations, because while Ireland remains a member of the European Union, Northern Ireland is part of the U.K. and was removed from the EU along with England, Scotland and Wales by Brexit.
That means some EU standards, such as those in place for quality checks on meat and dairy, are no longer in place on goods made and shipped within the U.K. The Northern Ireland Protocol in the Brexit deal laid out an agreement that those checks would be done at Northern Irish ports rather than along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Johnson’s government, though, has faced accusations of not fully implementing those checks and of putting the Good Friday Agreement at risk by pushing back at the EU to loosen those terms.