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John Bolton on Trudeau, Canada’s tensions with China and not voting for Trump

John Bolton may no longer be part of the Trump administration — or even a supporter of the president — but the former U.S. national security adviser still believes in the country’s clout on the world stage, which he says is being used to back up Canada amid tensions with China.

“The negative consequences caused by the Trump presidency can be overcome,” he said in an interview with The National‘s Adrienne Arsenault, noting however that the “position of the United States in the world has not fundamentally changed.”

“Those who are anti-American will pick on Trump as an example of America in decline, and they would be wrong.”

Bolton was fired by Donald Trump in September and has since authored a book about his time in the White House

He said the U.S. is still a force to be reckoned with, and that the country will be invaluable in efforts to secure the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians detained in China as what Bolton called retaliation for Canada arresting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S.

“Obviously, they were picking on Canada rather than arresting American citizens. That tells you a lot about the character of that regime,” Bolton said. 

“This is why we’re concerned about Huawei and [Chinese telecommunications company] ZTE to begin with. They are arms of the state of China, they’re not commercial telecommunications firms in the sense that we in the West understand it and they have a much larger mission than good telephone connections.

“So when they put pressure on a small country like Canada, it’s important for all of us to stand together and present a united front.” 

WATCH | U.S. standing behind Canada on China arrests, says Bolton:

John Bolton says the U.S. is standing behind Canada after two Canadians were detained in China. 1:28

Bolton said he thought of advice from within the administration to Trudeau to stand firm on Meng’s extradition not as pressure, but as the U.S. reassuring Canada “we weren’t going to let the Chinese get away with this.”

He also noted Canada’s relationship with the U.S. has been strained under Trump but will remain strong, and he commended Justin Trudeau for the prime minister’s “responsible” interactions with the president.

“It’s not easy for any foreign leader, especially from American allies, to deal with this anomalous president,” he said. “The fundamental relations between two countries really do transcend the vagaries, even of an election of a national leader.”

WATCH | Bolton commends Trudeau’s ‘responsible’ behaviour with Trump:

John Bolton says it’s not easy for foreign leaders to work with Trump and commended Justin Trudeau’s ‘responsible’ interactions with the president. 1:27

When it comes time to cast a ballot in the upcoming presidential election, Bolton said he’s not going to vote for Trump — nor for his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

“I’m going to write in a conservative Republican. I think that’s the philosophically right thing to do,” he said, acknowledging that some people who voted for Trump in 2016 or didn’t vote at all will vote for Biden.

“I respect that choice but that’s not mine.

“For a conservative Republican — and I’ve been one since I was 15 and handing out leaflets for Barry Goldwater — this is not a happy time.”

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