President Donald Trump is not what you might call a “man of letters” despite repeatedly bragging about the adoring missives he’s shared with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. But now the president reportedly has a second pen pal to annoy with notes so bizarre they were mistaken for a prank at first: Canadian Prime Minister and longtime frenemy Justin Trudeau.
According to Axios, Trump has sent Trudeau previously unreported handwritten letters, marked up with sharpie-drawn smiley faces and bizarre ramblings, over the past two years. In one instance, the president reportedly ripped the cover off an issue of Bloomberg Businessweek calling Trudeau the “the anti-Trump” and scrawled “something to the effect of ‘Looking good! Hope it’s not true!’” before sending the page to the Canadian Embassy in Washington, four sources with direct knowledge told Axios.
When the Canadian ambassador received the page, he was so confused by the bizarre message, he reportedly thought it was a joke, and had to confirm with the White House that this was, in fact, an official communique coming directly from the president of the United States.
In another handwritten message to Trudeau, sources who spoke with Axios said after the president mistakenly claimed the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada, he went so far as to print out a misleading chart and scribble “not good!” on the page. Trudeau reportedly responded with a much more dignified letter back to Trump—on his official stationery—that included an accurate accounting of the U.S./Canada trade balance. “You were slightly off on the balance of trade with Canada. USTR says so! All the best for 2018, Justin,” Trudeau reportedly wrote, adding a smiley face in the margin next to the line showing there had been a $12.5 billion surplus for the U.S. in 2016.
In a statement to Axios, a Canadian government official took a decidedly Canadian tone in response to the reported notes between the two heads of state:
We’re not going to comment on whether or what paper was exchanged between our 2 countries. There was a lot of back and forth. That said, it is certainly true that there were disagreements between our 2 countries about the figures, and we repeatedly pointed to USTR and U.S. Commerce’s own figures. On your second point (the Bloomberg cover), no comment, but we don’t deny it.
Just a normal way to do important international business from a normal international business guy!