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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Trade talk was the grist for Trump's performance art in Quebec

President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin

President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chat on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, on Friday. Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Saul Loeb

President Donald Trump put on a characteristically pungent and chaotic show at the G-7 summit in Quebec.

There, he performed what you could call some of his best-known dramatic numbers.

He pointed fingers, as usual, at his predecessors for trade imbalance.

He boasted, as usual, of a “great relationship” with partners — Germany’s Angela Merkel, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and France’s Emmanuel Macron — before deliberately straining it.

His surrogates did their best to help as provocateurs. After a Trudeau news conference that Trump, for whatever reason, didn’t like, advisers Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro envisioned a “special place in hell” for the prime minister, whom they accused of backstabbing and betrayal.

This little meltdown occurred after Trudeau said some things he’s said before and that anyone would expect him to say regarding retaliatory tariffs from his government:

“I have made it very clear to the president that it is not something we relish doing, but it is something that we absolutely will do, because Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.”

To this, Trump accused Trudeau — but only from a distance — of being “dishonest and weak” and removed U.S. endorsement of a joint statement setting development, security and sustainability as priorities.

As usual, Trump got involved in no detailed negotiations.

As usual, Trump offered no in-depth explanations for his positions.

As usual, the president was careless with facts. He exaggerated the size of the trade deficit on goods, and ignored the U.S. surplus supplying services to other nations.

As he does from time to time, Trump threw in a surprise Russia-related news item — calling for Vladimir Putin’s regime to be allowed to rejoin the leaders’ group.

That isn’t happening. But it did bring a round of nasty long-distance comments between Putin and the G-7.

Trump arrived late for the Canada parley and left early. Even before Sunday’s blowup, he dissed Trudeau by skipping his introductory remarks at a gender-equality breakfast on Saturday.

The bottom line of the G-7: Trump complained, other leaders responded, tariffs remained a big upcoming issue, and now life goes on pretty much as it did before.

The attention drawn to himself seems to have made the parley a successful show — if only by Trumpian standards.


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