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Trump viewed Canada as political pawn in trade issues with China: Bolton

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OTTAWA —
Former White House National Security Adviser John Bolton says it was “true” that U.S. President Donald Trump viewed Canada as a political pawn in trade dealings with China — though he said the president was the only one in Washington who viewed it that way.

Bolton made the comment in response to a question from CTV Question Period Host Evan Solomon, airing Sunday.

Tensions between Canada and China plunged into a deep freeze following Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in December 2018. Canadian authorities arrested Meng in Vancouver after the United States requested her extradition.

Meng’s lawyers have been arguing that Trump poisoned the extradition case when he said he would “certainly intervene” if he thought it were necessary in order to secure a trade deal with China.

During the interview, Solomon asked Bolton whether the extradition case shows Canada was being used as a “political pawn” in the trade issue between the two giants.

“Within the whole U.S. government, that was true in the mind of one person, one person only: Donald Trump,” said Bolton in response.

“A Canadian court, after extensive proceedings, has agreed that our extradition request has met the dual criminality standard that’s a prerequisite for extradition…there’s only one person in the United States, I think, who doesn’t understand that and I think in a few months he won’t be president anymore.”

As the extradition case has continued to play out in Canadian courts, Canada has paid the price in the form of much chillier relations with China.

Canada’s arrest of the executive infuriated China, which subsequently arrested Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in what the Canadian government has described as retaliation — though China insists otherwise. China also briefly banned the import of Canadian beef and pork, blaming it on a banned animal feed additive they claim was found in a shipment of Canadian pork.

“The U.S. asked for the extradition of Meng Wanzhou when she landed in Vancouver about almost two years ago, [and] Canada’s been going through the extradition proceedings. How did China behave? They seized [two] Canadian citizens in China for no reason at all, not even having a good pretext to detain them,” Bolton said.

Chinese state-run media has also ridiculed the idea that Meng would be dealt with by an independent judiciary, and Trump has further fuelled Chinese conspiracy theories about political motivations behind Meng’s arrest with his comments about potential intervention.

Meanwhile, Canada has been forced to fiercely defend the independence of its judiciary, despite Chinese pressure for Meng to be returned to home soil — pressure that resulted in what Canadian officials have called the arbitrary detention of the two Canadians in China.

BOLTON WORRIES ABOUT TRUMP TAKING ‘REVENGE’ IF HE LOSES ELECTION

During the interview with Solomon, Bolton also expressed concerns about what could happen if Trump fails in his bid for a second term.

“This has been his focus, I think, during the entire first term of his presidency — not policies, but doing things that will get him reelected. And now, obviously, the pressure is on,” Bolton said.

The president’s former national security adviser said as the election draws nearer, the “likelihood of defeat” is becoming clear to Trump.

“In our long transition period before January the 20th, if he loses, I do worry about what steps he might take for revenge or just out of reaction to being a loser — which he hates to be,” Bolton said.

“I think that the transition period in a time of defeat could also be very troubling.”

Bolton also said the country will need to be “very careful” about the transition of power in light of comments Trump has made.

“I think what Trump has said, for example, that he couldn’t lose unless there were fraud I think that’s very dangerous…he could easily lose in a completely free and fair election, so if he’s trying to lay the basis to do something illicit, I’m very troubled by that,” Bolton said.

During a debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden last week, both men were asked whether they would urge their supporters to stay calm, not engage in civil unrest, and commit to a peaceful transition of power.

Trump would not commit clearly to accepting the result. Instead, he encouraged his backers to be “poll watchers” and cast doubt on the validity of the election due to the number of mail-in ballots anticipated.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacted to this issue on Thursday, saying Canada is “going to be prepared for various eventualities” of the election.

He added that he is “certainly hopeful that all will proceed smoothly.”

Meanwhile, Bolton has his own hope for the outcome of the November election.

“I definitely believe Trump should be a one-term President,” Bolton said.

“I don’t think he governs with any philosophy, or strategy, or policy. I’ve described life inside the White House as like living inside a pinball machine that hasn’t gotten better with age. I believed, when I took on the job as National Security Adviser, that the gravity of the job, the weight of his responsibilities, would have an effect on him. That turned out to be completely wrong.”

‘HE JUST LIKES THEM’ SAYS BOLTON OF TRUMP’S APPROACH TO TARIFFS

Bolton also shared details of the rationale behind Trump’s approach to slapping tariffs on Canada, noting that “there is no strategy” and that Trump “just likes” tariffs.

The comment comes after Trump cited national security as the rationale behind hitting Canada with steel and aluminum tariffs in May 2018, in the middle of new NAFTA negotiations. The tariffs remained in place for a year, during which time Canada fired back with dollar-for-dollar countermeasures on American steel, aluminum, and a surtax on other goods.

Trump also threatened to slap tariffs on aluminum imports coming from Canada this summer, but reneged on the decision at the eleventh hour as Canada was poised to unveil its countermeasures.

When Solomon pressed Bolton on what the strategy was behind these moves, the former national security adviser said “there is no strategy.”

“I know this sounds counterintuitive, but Trump likes tariffs. He just likes them, because he can impose them without having to get consent of Congress under various provisions in our trade laws,” Bolton said.

He said that Trump thinks the United States is “constantly taken advantage of,” which Bolton noted there might be some legitimacy to, as he said the U.S. trade negotiators “haven’t been the most astute.”

“He wants to show that he can respond strongly. But it has nothing to do with strategy, and it has a lot to do, I think, with him showing how assertive he is.”

 

Source: – CTV News

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Politics Chat: Trump And Biden Reach Final Stretch Of Their Presidential Campaigns – NPR

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It’s nine days until Election Day, and a historic number of Americans have already voted. More will do so in the coming days.



LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

We are almost there, people. Just over a week until Election Day and a new reminder of just how unprecedented and unpredictable this campaign is. Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff is now in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus. That’s on a weekend where a record number of Americans have also been confirmed positive. Let’s check in now with our own Mara Liasson, NPR national political correspondent.

Good morning to you, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Marc Short is considered a close contact of the vice president’s.

LIASSON: Yes, he is, and the White House said that the vice president and Mrs. Pence both tested negative. They’re in good health. Pence – even though he is considered a close contact of Marc Short’s, he’s also classified as an essential employee, and the White House says he’s going to keep on traveling, maintain his campaign schedule. Per the CDC guidelines, essential workers who have been exposed to COVID can continue to work if they monitor for symptoms and wear a mask at all times. We know that Short himself is quarantining.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. As we know, it can take some time, though, for there to be enough virus to show up on a test, so obviously, we’re going to keep a close eye on this. But let’s zoom out a little bit now and look at both campaigns. Where are the candidates going in these final days, and what does that tell us about the state of the race?

LIASSON: Well, it tells us a lot. Donald Trump was in North Carolina and Ohio and Wisconsin yesterday. North Carolina and Ohio aren’t states that are usually considered battleground states. They’re states that Republicans should be able to take for granted. Wisconsin – obviously a big, important swing state.

Joe Biden was in Pennsylvania, so it shows you that he’s not taking his birth state for granted. That’s a state that Donald Trump won last time. The Democrats want to get it back. And the Democrats are sending Barack Obama to campaign in Miami. They sent him there. That – he is the most popular person in the Democratic Party, and Florida is a state that Donald Trump has to win to get to 270 votes. So it shows you that Democrats are trying to at least force the Trump campaign to spend a lot more time and money in Florida.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. And there are a lot of statistics being passed around about how many votes have been cast already and by whom and how all that compares to 2016 and other elections, so I’m going to put this to you. What’s your take on all those numbers?

LIASSON: The numbers are really interesting. Right now, 50 million votes have been cast so far. That’s early voting and by-mail voting. That is a third of the total votes cast in 2016, so I would say we are on our way to a historically high turnout election. In Florida and in Texas, the votes cast so far are greater than the number of total votes cast for Donald Trump in those two states in 2016. We don’t know by whom.

We also do know that a Tufts University study of young voters aged 18 to 29 in Florida, North Carolina and Michigan show that they are voting early by – in multiples of the numbers they voted four years ago. And, of course, we do know that young voters tend to split for Democrats 2-to-1. So it’s hard to say what early voting means.

There was an early advantage for Democrats in the states that do report party ID, but now we’re hearing from Florida that Republicans are turning out to vote early in numbers that could offset that advantage. And it’s hard to draw conclusions about early voting because we don’t know if it’s a sign of greater turnout advantage or is a party just banking votes early that they would get anyway on Election Day?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. And speaking of big numbers, let’s talk about money. I mean, we’ve seen just huge sums of money being paid out during this election. Is a cash advantage that – like the Democrats have as important as it used to be? And where are the candidates spending all that money?

LIASSON: A cash advantage is important. Money doesn’t equal votes, but it really helps. And what’s interesting about this year is that it is very unusual that an incumbent president, especially a Republican incumbent who – there are just more deep pockets on the Republican side – is being outraised and outspent by the Democrats.

Now, plenty of rich people are also giving to Joe Biden, but his average donation is $44. That’s a sign of enthusiasm. He also has much more cash on hand right now than the Trump campaign. It shows you how much money the Trump campaign has kind of blown through. And we also know that big donors are now – on the Republican side are now sending their money to Senate races, not to Donald Trump. They’re trying to build that firewall, and that’s going to be – he’s not going to be able to raise a lot of money in the last couple of days.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. You mentioned Senate races. There’s a big race in South Carolina between Senator Lindsey Graham and his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison. Just briefly, what other big races are you watching?

LIASSON: Well, watching Maine and Colorado. Those are the two blue states won by Hillary Clinton where there’s a Republican Senate incumbent up for reelection. In both those states, the Republican has been trailing. The next state I’m watching is Arizona – again, a Republican incumbent who’s been polling behind the Democratic challenger. And then there are all sorts of sleeper races. South Carolina is one of them, as you mentioned – Alaska, Kansas. There’s a lot of – I would say the Senate is a jump ball right now.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That’s NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.

Thank you so much.

LIASSON: Thank you.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Showdown on Parliament Hill pushes tension between science, politics into the spotlight – Global News

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OTTAWA — Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

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It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

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A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.






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Tories want Liberals’ pandemic response investigated


Tories want Liberals’ pandemic response investigated

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

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But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

Read more:
Liberals will not view second Conservative committee motion as confidence vote

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.


Click to play video 'Singh says NDP doesn’t want ‘witch hunt’ with WE Charity investigation'



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Singh says NDP doesn’t want ‘witch hunt’ with WE Charity investigation


Singh says NDP doesn’t want ‘witch hunt’ with WE Charity investigation

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

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Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

READ MORE: Liberals survive confidence vote, avert imminent election with NDP help

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Trudeau defends making Tory committee motion a confidence vote, risking election'



1:25
Coronavirus: Trudeau defends making Tory committee motion a confidence vote, risking election


Coronavirus: Trudeau defends making Tory committee motion a confidence vote, risking election

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

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“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Commons showdown highlights tension between politics and science – Humboldt Journal

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OTTAWA — Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

article continues below

“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2020.

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