Canadian prime minister calls Trump's tariffs 'insulting and unacceptable'

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it “insulting and unacceptable” for President Trump to slap steel and aluminum tariffs on the United States’ neighbor to the north.

“The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is, quite frankly, insulting and unacceptable,” Trudeau said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Trump announced Thursday that the United States would impose tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum coming from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

The Canadian leader called the move, and particularly its justification on the grounds of national security, an affront to the historically close friendship between the two nations.

“Canada and the United States have perhaps the most successful economic partnership and alliance and friendship in the history of the modern world. There are no two countries that are as interconnected, interdependent,” he said.

More on Trump and Trudeau's relationship:

“Our soldiers who had fought and died together on the beaches of World War II, and the mountains of Afghanistan and have stood shoulder-to-shoulder in some of the most difficult places in the world, that are always there for each other, somehow-- this is insulting to that. The idea that the Canadian steel that's in military, military vehicles in the United States, the Canadian aluminum that makes your, your fighter jets is somehow now a threat.”

Trump announced aluminum and steel tariffs in March, but initially exempted close allies in North America and Europe.

But last week, he declared that trade talks to avoid the fees had been unsuccessful.

Canada will retaliate with its own tariffs on American steel and aluminum, plus consumer goods that Canadians can find easy replacements for, Trudeau said - adding the tit for tat would hurt both countries.

“The fact that the president has moved forward with these tariffs is not just going to hurt Canadian jobs. It's going to hurt US jobs as well,” he said.

The prime minister said he has no idea what Trump is trying to achieve by imposing the tariffs on its close ally.

Trump is also pushing to renegotiate the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

But Trudeau said he would not accept a new clause in NAFTA that would cause it to expire in five years, which the United States wants to insert.

“You don’t sign a trade deal that automatically expires every five years,” he said. “That’s a non-starter...What company is going to want to invest in Canada if, give years later, there might not be a trade deal with the United States?”

Larry Kudlow, an economic adviser to Trump, said Sunday the backlash against the tariffs was overblown.

“I regard this as more of a family quarrel,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “It can be solved if people work together.”

Kudlow said it was unclear how long the tariffs would remain in place, depending on the outcome of trade negotiations.

“To say that this is an attack on Canada is not right,” he said, adding of Trudeau, “I think he’s overreacting.”