Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland arrived in Washington D.C. Wednesday night ahead of yet another round of NAFTA talks between reps from Canada, the United States and Mexico. Though the Canadians have made a point of being amicable but firm, Freeland’s choice of travel t-shirt raised eyebrows and may have annoyed the Americans.
Our camera was there when Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland arrived in Washington tonight wearing the following message:
“Mama ≠ Chopped Liver” +
“Keep Calm and Negotiate NAFTA”
— Rosa Hwang (@journorosa) September 19, 2018
Freeland’s shirt read “Mama ≠ Chopped Liver” on the front and “Keep Calm and Negotiate NAFTA” on the back, prompting questions about the garment which she was more than willing to answer.
“The shirt is a Christmas gift my children gave to me,” she told reporters at the airport, “They had it made for me.” She also posed for cameras to allow the press to get clear shots of both sides.
When asked, she said she certainly hoped that the shirt would bring her luck in the negotiations the next day.
The shirt got mixed reviews from Canadians. Some were all for the display of determination while others called it “juvenile” and voiced worries that it may turn out to be a dangerous provocation.
I love @cafreeland 💗
She is smarter and tougher than anyone I can think of.😎
Lucky Canada. 🇨🇦 🙌
— Lulu the Calm 🎏 (@LuluTheCalm) September 19, 2018
I’m no fan of the Liberals but I do love that shirt!!! #gogetem
— Sask_boy (@rickrock0527) September 19, 2018
This is embarrassing and shows the lack of maturity the Canadian government has. It’s hard to admit that your Canadian anymore. Do you feel guilty to pretend to be nonbias
— p (@pprogas) September 20, 2018
Another juvenile stunt by team Freeland. Like everything the Liberals do, this stunt is designed to wow the media and distract from their failing NAFTA tactics. Meanwhile it’s a subtle dig to our American allies (ie no one thinks that “mama” is “chopped liver”). So stupid. https://t.co/eoo5DMzQ1Z
— Candice Malcolm (@CandiceMalcolm) September 19, 2018
While the White House has not responded to the shirt specifically, there are reports that lawmakers on the American side are displeased with some of Freeland’s increasingly frank criticism of the U.S. government. At the Women in the World Summit in Toronto last week, Freeland participated in a panel called “Taking on the Tyrant” about “the global rise of populism and authoritarian strong men leaders.” Though his name was never mentioned in the discussion, an introductory video montage featured footage of Donald Trump alongside other controversial leaders Vladimir Putin, Bashir Assad of Syria and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines.
Freeland’s appearance on the panel was publicly scrutinized by Canadians considering Canada’s fragile trade situtation, but Justin Trudeau supported his minister (without explicitly supporting the concept that Donald Trump could be a “tyrant”).
“Canadians expect their government and their representatives to stand up clearly for Canadian values and defend Canadians’ interests,” Trudeau told reporters, “It needs to be crystal clear to Canadians that we will always be there to defend our values and defend our interests and that’s exactly what Chrystia is doing around the negotiating table and in her work as foreign affairs minister.”
The current round of talks for which Freeland was recently in Washington have not yet yielded any news over progress. Ontario Premier Doug Ford was also in the U.S. capitol for a briefing on NAFTA this week. He told constituents that his motivation in making the trip was to urge Canada’s negotiating team not to compromise on agriculture.
Negotiations are ongoing, however Freeland left Thursday for Montreal to host an international meeting of female foreign ministers.