OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Donald Trump has “never” asked him to intervene or share Canadian intelligence to advance the U.S. president’s domestic political goals.
“No. We have not and I would not,” Trudeau said at a media availability in Toronto Tuesday.
The comment comes amid revelations the U.S. president contacted other countries, such as Australia, for help tracking down the origins of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
An impeachment inquiry is currently underway following a whistleblower complaint alleging Trump reportedly froze $400 million in foreign aid to Ukraine shortly before a July call with that country’s president to use as leverage to pressure him to investigate former vice-president Joe Biden.
Watch: Whistleblowers who changed U.S. history
Biden is currently one of 19 Democratic candidates seeking the party’s presidential nomination, with early polls suggesting he is a front-runner. His son Hunter was a former board member of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company.
The U.S. House of Representatives launched an impeachment inquiry last week. It’s the latest challenge to beset Trump’s administration, creating minor ripples in Canada’s federal election.
During a town hall in Nanaimo, B.C., on Thursday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was asked what would be the first thing that he would say to Trump should he become prime minister. Singh responded with a cheeky comment: “I hope he gets impeached before that happens.”
The NDP leader doubled down on his comments the next day, saying he wasn’t joking.
Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer have exercised more restraint in criticizing the U.S. president.
The Liberal leader has instead directed his ire towards Ontario Premier Doug Ford, particularly during campaign stops in battleground ridings.
Asked how he would work with Ford, given all the time he has spent criticizing him, Trudeau didn’t give a relevant response. Instead he brought up a work-to-rule campaign by educators after contract talks between the province and school boards failed over the weekend.
“I am a parent with kids in the Ontario public system and I really wish that Doug Ford would spend as much time focusing on my kids’ school as he does focus on supporting his federal party.”
The Liberal leader was in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to campaign on his party’s pledge to give municipalities, pending provincial approval, the authority to ban handguns as one way to curb gun violence. Ford has previously opposed the idea of a handgun ban.
Firearms advocates have warned that such legislation would punish law-abiding gun owners, while gun-control activists have instead urged a national handgun ban.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who was among a group of GTA mayors who stood behind Trudeau during the announcement, said she and her counterparts think a national prohibition would be more effective.
“At this time, however, we are appreciative of the funding announcement that will go directly to help us fund guns and gangs (programs) and give us the resources that we need directly,” Crombie said.
Trudeau pledged to add $250 million in funding over five years to help municipalities tackle gun violence, and simultaneously criticized the Ontario PC government.
“Unfortunately, the politics at Queen’s Park and Doug Ford’s approach has not delivered the money that municipalities needed to keep their citizens safe, which is why our commitment of $250 million for municipalities will go directly to those municipalities.″
Ford has remained low-key during the federal election, but Trudeau’s regular attacks are seemingly testing the premier’s restraint. Sources told The Toronto Star that the Ontario premier is reportedly keen to return fire.
With files from The Canadian Press
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