Harper to visit White House to meet Trump’s security adviser: Report
OTTAWA—Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper is reportedly planning a visit to the White House next week to meet with one of Donald Trump’s most senior advisers.
CTV News reported Wednesday night that Harper is scheduled to meet with John Bolton, the former American ambassador to the United Nations and current national security adviser in the Trump administration, at the White House on July 2.
The Star has not independently verified CTV’s report. A spokesperson for Harper did not immediately respond to multiple requests, while another of the former prime minister’s associates say they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue.
The White House press office did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation.
The meeting would come a day after the Canadian government imposes retaliatory tariffs on a number of American consumer goods; a response to the escalating trade conflict launched by Trump earlier this year.
Since leaving politics in 2016, Harper has started a consulting firm, Harper and Associates, along with close former aides Ray Novak, Rachel Curran, and Anna Tomala. He also chairs the International Democratic Union, an alliance of centre-right political figures and parties across the world.
It’s not clear what could be on the agenda at a Harper-Bolton meeting. Bolton, who replaced H.R. McMaster as Trump’s national security adviser in March, does not appear to be directly involved with Canada-U.S. files like the ongoing NAFTA renegotiations.
Instead, he’s been mostly associated with the administration’s focus on North Korea, Iran, and Russia — although he has expressed skepticism about institutions like the United Nations and the European Union in the past.
Harper, for his part, has been critical of how the Trudeau government has been handling the Canada-U.S. file. In an October 2017 memo to Harper and Associate clients, obtained by the Canadian Press, Harper suggested the Liberals were “napping on NAFTA.”
“Canada’s government needs to get its head around this reality: it does not matter whether current American proposals are worse than what we have now,” Harper’s memo read.
“What matters in evaluating them is whether it is worth having a trade agreement with the Americans or not.”
While critical of his successor, Harper has maintained the trade relationship between the U.S. and Canada is a “vitally important one.” In an interview on Fox News earlier this month, Harper seemed to urge the Trump administration to not let disagreements on individual files poison the overall relationship.
“I don’t see any fundamental problem in the Canadian-American trade relationship,” Harper said.
“This is a more or less balanced relationship, and one that’s vitally important to businesses and consumers on both sides of the border. And one that Trump supporters have no trouble with.”