Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gushed about Canada's warm relations with Cuba as President Donald Trump vowed to overhaul a deal to restore US ties with the communist-ruled island nation. "We have tremendous respect and (a) constructive relationship with the United States.
But in the matter of Cuba, there's always been a certain amount of disagreement," Trudeau told a joint press conference with his visiting Belgian counterpart, Charles Michel yesterday. His comments came moments after Trump announced in Miami the reversal of his predecessor Barack Obama's 2014 policy of rapprochement ending nearly six decades of Cuba-US estrangement. Canada and Mexico are the only two countries in the Americas to have maintained diplomatic ties with Cuba following the 1950s armed revolt led by Fidel Castro against the right-wing authoritarian government of Fulgencio Batista. Trudeau's father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, was the first leader of a NATO country to travel to Castro's Cuba, in January 1976 during the middle of the Cold War, against Washington's wishes. After Castro's passing last year, Trudeau praised the communist leader and family friend as a "legendary revolutionary and orator," drawing rebukes from American conservatives who said he was praising a cruel dictator. Trudeau had made an official visit to the island only two weeks earlier -- and 40 years after his father -- but had not met with the ailing Castro. "I think Canada has always been very proud of the independence of our foreign policy, in particular (with) regards to Cuba," the prime minister said Friday. He vowed Canada would continue to support Cuba in terms of tourism and investment, as well as "the opportunities we wish to create for the people of Cuba and for Canadian business people.