A week after an explosive revelation by a German magazine forced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to repeatedly deny that he “appeased” U.S. President Donald Trump on climate change, that magazine appears to have reaffirmed its report, and is standing by its story.
Der Spiegel reported June 9 that Trudeau had suggested to German Chancellor Angela Merkel she could remove all mentions of the Paris Agreement on climate change from a planned environmental statement by the G20, limiting the statement to just energy issues.
Last week, the prime minister denied the story on two occasions and his office said it had asked for a correction from Der Spiegel. The magazine has updated its story with an editor’s note that says it was indeed contacted by Trudeau’s office following the story’s publication.
But it says the office requested it publish “a response," not a correction. The magazine then published a reply that appears to back up its original reporting in the story.
The latest diplomatic developments come as German Ambassador Werner Wnendt prepares to host a special event on Tuesday recognizing Algonquin First Nations, raising two flags honouring them that will fly beside the German, Canadian and European Union flags.
An invitation to the event features the flags of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council and the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, the two flags being raised. It says the flag-raising ceremony is meant "to honour the people that have owned the land where our residence is built upon for thousands of years."
The embassy confirmed that Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett has been invited to the ceremony. Her office could not immediately confirm before publication whether she would be attending.
'It is very simple...I did no such thing'
Merkel’s objective, Der Spiegel reported, was to “isolate” the U.S. by getting the 19 other G20 countries to commit to Paris when she hosts the summit in Hamburg on July 7-8, and turn Trump into “a bogeyman of world history.”
But Trudeau was concerned about provoking Washington, the magazine reported, and instead “suggested simply limiting the statement to energy issues, something that Trump would likely support as well.”
New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair asked Trudeau during Question Period June 12 to confirm that he had suggested striking all mentions of the Paris deal from the planned G20 statement—“did he make that ask, yes or no?" Trudeau insisted “no, I did not say that.”
Two days later, Mulcair tried again, asking “why did the prime minister do this?” Trudeau answered, “It is very simple...I did no such thing.”
Last week, Trudeau spokesman Cameron Ahmad told National Observer that "the characterization in this article is incorrect," and said Trudeau’s office had asked the magazine for a correction.
"Following the publication of this story on Friday, a spokesperson for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau contacted Der Spiegel and requested that we publish a response from the prime minister's office. It follows, along with our own reply," reads an undated update on the story.
The statement from Trudeau's office, attributed to Ahmad, says "the suggestion that our approach has changed or that the prime minister was in favour of removing the Paris Agreement from the G20 Action Plan is incorrect."
“In his discussion with the chancellor, the prime minister specifically emphasized our shared commitment to fighting climate change, strengthening environmental protection, and pursuing clean energy and sustainable development,” reads Ahmad’s statement.
In its reply, Der Spiegel said it "would like to stress that the article did not claim Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told chancellor Angela Merkel that he would call his commitment to the Paris Agreement into question.
“However, sources within the government in Berlin told Der Spiegel that the prime minister suggested to Angela Merkel to keep references to the Paris treaty out of the G20 declaration in Hamburg. This would allow U.S. President Donald Trump to sign the planned declaration on energy.”
Trudeau told Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the June 14 Question Period that he now will insist that the Paris Agreement stay in the final G20 declaration.
“We will continue to push for the respect and the support for Paris...in the G20 coming in Hamburg,” he said.
National Observer has asked Ahmad about whether the prime minister’s office is still demanding a correction, but he could not immediately respond before publication.