Its not a surprise: Morneau downplays Trumps sudden trade attack on Canada

WASHINGTON—Canada’s finance minister is downplaying U.S. President Donald Trump’s sudden attack on Canadian trade policies, saying it is unsurprising that pleasant generalities would give way to tougher policy talks as the countries head into a likely NAFTA renegotiation. “No surprises, from my perspective,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in a Friday interview with a small group of reporters in Washington, where he is visiting for meetings of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and G20. “It’s really not a surprise that we’ve moved from a positive relationship, which it is, to thinking about specifics,” he said. His focus, he said, is the kind of “relationship development” that will allow Canada to make its case most effectively when negotiations begin. Morneau offered only praise for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s newly announced policies to address challenges in the housing industry, saying the government was especially happy “there were no measures that increase potential demand for housing.”The policy package includes a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area. Article Continued BelowMorneau said the federal government would not consider imposing such a tax nationally, since conditions in individual cities are different, but applauded Wynne’s move to try to cool the market in the vicinity of Toronto.“The measures around trying to reduce speculation in the market, we think are positive. We do believe that there’s an important issue around psychology in the market that needs to be addressed, and Ontario’s making progress on that issue,” Morneau said. U.S. President Donald Trump promised on Tuesday to defend American dairy farmers who have been hurt by Canada’s protectionist trade practices, during a visit to the cheese-making state of Wisconsin. (Reuters)Trump hailed the Canada-U.S. trade relationship as “very outstanding” at a news conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in February, saying he wanted only to be “tweaking it.” This week, though, he has denounced Canada over dairy, lumber and even energy, saying this is “another NAFTA disaster.”