Senators from both parties sought to mend a frayed relationship with Canada during a closed-door meeting Wednesday with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. The meeting involving members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee followed President Donald Trump calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "dishonest" and "weak" after the Group of 7 summit in Quebec over the weekend. Per the AP, Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the committee, said senators expressed concerns about the president's use of a national security waiver to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada. Corker said he believes it's an abuse of presidential authority. Corker has sponsored legislation that would require Congress to sign off on such tariffs, called Section 232 tariffs, but he has struggled to get a vote.
Many Republicans are reluctant to pick a fight with Trump over trade right now as he seeks better deals with China and a slew of US allies. Freeland said Canada values its relationship with the US. However, she called the administration's use of Section 232 tariffs "frankly absurd." She added that the action is illegal under World Trade Organization rules and the North American Free Trade Agreement, "and we have raised cases in both tribunals." She said the answer to the dispute was simple: "The US has to remove these unfair, illegal tariffs from Canada and from its allies." Trump enraged US allies Canada, Mexico, and the European Union two weeks ago by slapping tariffs on their steel and aluminum shipments to the US; most other countries have been paying the tariffs since March.
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