Former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington on March 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jose Luis Magana

Feds learned by accident of Harper’s plans to visit White House next week

Former prime minister Stephen Harper is reportedly planning a trip to the White House next week, bucking convention.

The Trudeau government only found out by accident that former prime minister Stephen Harper was planning to visit the White House next week in the midst of a looming trade war between Canada and the United States.

According to one senior official, Harper himself didn’t mention the visit, bucking convention by not informing the Canadian government.

Instead, the Canadian embassy in Washington got a call from John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, asking who would be accompanying the prime minister to the meeting on Monday.

Baffled, the embassy contacted the Prime Minister’s Office, to see if Justin Trudeau had somehow forgotten to mention he was heading to Washington.

Trudeau’s foreign policy adviser, John Hannaford, then contacted his counterpart in the White House, who eventually apologized for the mixup and explained it was former prime minister Harper who would be visiting.

Harper’s office did not respond to a request for comment and it wasn’t clear Thursday whether the meeting is still scheduled to take place Monday — one day after Canada’s retaliatory tariffs on imports of a wide range of U.S. goods, and as well as steel and aluminum, are set to come into effect.

Nor was it clear whether Harper might have been planning to meet with anyone else at the White House or what he intended to talk about.

Related: Harper plans visit to White House without telling Canadian government

Related: Two PMs in one U.S. capital to talk NAFTA

As president of the International Democrat Union, an alliance of right-of-centre political parties around the globe, there may have been any number of issues Harper would want to address, including Israel and Iran.

The visit to the U.S. capital comes amid heightened tensions between Canada and the U.S. over the prospect of a trade war.

Talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement have stalled since Trump last month imposed a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports from Canada and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminum imports.

Trump has since threatened to impose more tariffs on Canadian-made automobiles and dairy.

And he and other administration officials have also engaged in personal attacks against Trudeau in speeches and on political talk shows and social media.

In Montreal on Thursday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau noted that opposition parties have united behind the government in its response to U.S. tariffs and threats of a trade war.

“We speak with one voice, and we certainly hope that will continue to be the case, and we fully expect it to be the case,” he said.

Harper was a team player earlier this month when he appeared on Fox News to defend Canada’s trade relationship with the U.S. He suggested that Canada “is the wrong target” for Trump’s wrath over unfair trade practices.

However, in a memo to clients last fall entitled “Napping on NAFTA,” Harper accused the Trudeau government of bungling negotiations on the continental trade pact.

Asked Thursday if Harper should have advised the government that he planned to visit the White House, Garneau said: “Mr Harper is a private citizen and I’m sure he’s sensitive to those things because he’s a former prime minister himself.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 6: Recap

Highlights and results from day 6 at the All Native Basketball Tournament

Seeds planted for Port Edward community garden

Thomas Barnett presented the concept to council on Feb. 12

All Native Basketball Tournament Day of Champions Preview

Looking ahead to the championship matches of the All Native Tournament

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

Ice skating on the North Coast, a rare treat

Seawolves hockey players bring their gear to Oliver Lake this week to play on the outdoor rink

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Most Read