15043324 - Amid reports Stephen Harper heads to Washington, questions remain over why, when and with whom

Amid reports Stephen Harper heads to Washington, questions remain over why, when and with whom

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READ MORE: Stephen Harper may meet Trump advisor John Bolton next week, didn’t tell Trudeau

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Former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, Sunday, March 26, 2017.



Prime Minister Stephen Harper is reportedly set to meet Monday with senior advisors in the Trump administration.

But no official confirmation of the meeting has been issued and there is continued uncertainty over how such a meeting may play out.

READ MORE: Stephen Harper may meet Trump advisor John Bolton next week, didn’t tell Trudeau

Reports first emerged last week, which said that Harper “blindsided” the Prime Minister’s Office by planning a meeting with John Bolton, the American national security adviser, and possibly also Larry Kudlow, who is economic adviser to President Donald Trump.

The visit was reportedly scheduled for July 2, the day after $16.6 billion worth of Canadian tariffs against American goods go into effect.

Those tariffs are retaliation for steep tariffs imposed on foreign steel and aluminum by Trump on May 31.

However, repeated attempts to confirm the reports of any meeting between Harper and Trump officials has been met by silence.

The Prime Minister’s Office also has not yet responded to a request made Monday morning asking whether it is currently aware of any meetings scheduled.

WATCH BELOW: Prime Minister visits steel workers, families as retaliatory tariffs take effect

While Global News has been told Harper may be in Washington, there is no confirmation at this point of any meetings scheduled to take place, who they may be with, or in what capacity he may be in the American capital.

READ MORE: Stephen Harper says Liberals are ‘napping on NAFTA’ negotiations

In addition to working as a consultant for his firm, Harper & Associates Consulting, the former prime minister is also a founding member of the Friends of Israel initiative, of which Bolton is also a member.

Harper is also chair of the International Democratic Union, which is an alliance of centre-right political parties.

News of the reported visit comes as tensions of trade and tariffs continue to escalate.

READ MORE: Americans pay tribute to #CanadaDay, say sorry for Donald Trump

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent Canada Day on a quick cross-country tour between a tomato processing and canning plant in Leamington, Ont., and a steel refinery in Regina, where he thanked Canadians for standing up for each other.

“This is who we are, we’re there for each other in times of difficulty, in times of opportunity. We lean on each other and we stand strong and that’s what we do from coast to coast to coast,” Trudeau said.

Trump imposed the steel and aluminum tariffs under provisions dealing with so-called “national security threats” to the United States.

Since then, he has alternated between characterizing them as being imposed because of a dislike of the Canadian supply management system and as a negotiating tool that may be removed if Canada and Mexico capitulate to his demands in NAFTA renegotiations.

Prior to arriving at the G7 Summit in Quebec City last month, Trump also threatened to impose tariffs on auto imports if the Canadian retaliatory tariffs went into effect.

WATCH BELOW: Freeland vows ‘equally clear and firm’ repose to Trump auto tariffs

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has warned Canadian officials are making “detailed” preparations for a robust response if Trump imposes auto tariffs.

READ MORE: Canada preparing ‘detailed’ response to potential Trump auto tariffs: Freeland

“With respect let me say that the prime minister’s response on May 31 when the Section 232 [steel and aluminum] tariffs were announced was firm, clear and resolute, and it spoke to detailed preparation,” Freeland said before a House of Commons committee last month.

“Our preparations in support of the auto sector are equally detailed and our support will be equally firm and clear, and that’s a commitment.”

NAFTA negotiations are expected to enter into what Freeland has described as an “intensive” phase this summer.

Trump, however, said on Sunday he will not sign a deal until after the midterm elections this fall.

With files from the Canadian Press.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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