Chretien to Trudeau: “talk to everybody”


OTTAWA – Former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien says he hopes Justin Trudeau will engage in a dialogue with a variety of international leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During an interview with CTV’s Question Period, Chretien suggested the incoming prime minister’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, maintained an open approach when speaking to world leaders including Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

“Mr. Trudeau could talk to anybody because he kept his independence,” he said.

Chretien also advised Justin Trudeau to “talk to everybody.”

Outgoing prime minister Stephen Harper used tough rhetoric with Putin over the crisis in the Ukraine but Chretien questions about much effect that had.

“Do you think that Putin did not sleep at all that night?” Chretien said.

“You know, I know him. I went to talk with him. I wanted to have the two sides of the coin.”

Chretien also said Canada should re-open an embassy in Iran.

“Is it useful, you know, that we don’t talk to people?” Chretien said. “I believe in dialogue.”

The outgoing Conservative government moved to cut ties with Iran in Sept. 2012 and cited it as the “most significant threat to global peace and security in the world.”

During the CTV interview, Chretien was also asked if the Liberal position to end Canada’s participation in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant could raise concern among allies.

The former prime minister said Canada has traditionally joined missions led by the United Nations or NATO.

“That was the policy that existed under (Pierre Elliott) Trudeau when we had the first war in Iraq,” Chretien said. “Mulroney, he waited to have the advice of the UN before moving up. And it was my policy, too. And that is why I said no to the war in Iraq to George W. Bush.”

Justin Trudeau has pledged to end air strikes by Canadian CF-18s but plans to continue Canada’s training role in Iraq.