Canada will respond firmly to Donald Trump, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday after the United States announced it would level trade sanctions against its softwood and dairy sectors.
"I'm polite, but I'm also very firm in defending Canada's interests," Trudeau said in an interview with broadcaster CTV.
After slapping new tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber Monday, the US president threatened to retaliate against its northern neighbor over new pricing policies that effectively cut many US dairy farmers out of the Canadian market.
"We are going to engage respectfully but firmly with the US to demonstrate... the scope of integration of our economies," Trudeau said in response.
Canadian delegations led by Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland have traveled often to Washington since Trump's inauguration in January to try to build a good working relationship.
Softwood trade has long been an irritant between the two nations and was expected to flare up again after a brokered deal that had limited Canada's share of the US market expired in 2015.
But Trump's hard line on the softwood issue appears to have surprised Canada.
"We will work constructively together" to find solutions to these trade disputes, Trudeau said, while downplaying Trump's strong rhetoric.
Cross-border disputes over dairy and lumber, he said, have been "going on since before my father was prime minister" (from 1968).
"These are recurring challenges in what is very big and complex Canada-US relationship," he said.