Canadian media on Monday suggested that Trump aides - uneasy about a drastic change to USA trade policy - contacted Ottawa directly, encouraging aides to Trudeau to set up a conversation between the President and Prime Minister to encourage Trump to back off withdrawing from NAFTA.
On Wednesday, April 26, the Washington Post, Politico, CNN and the New York Times published stories saying that sources within the White House were considering a draft executive order to cancel NAFTA.
But the reports caused anxiety both in Ottawa, where advisers to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau anxious about the economic fallout, and at the White House, where some aides were concerned Trump was acting too quickly.
But Canadian media tells a different story.
Two weeks ago, the Republican had apparently made a decision to abandon the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which he'd railed against as a candidate, though it's unclear if he understands the policy in any meaningful way.
The president, who had repeatedly called it the "worst trade deal ever" on the campaign trail, changed his tune after speaking with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month, who convinced him to renegotiate the deal instead.
"Maybe they're just learning how to be a government", the source said. They dialed up Jared Kushner in a panic asking for clarity and Kushner told them that Trump and Justin Trudeau should probably speak directly about it. "At lest they were open to the conversation, and that stopped them doing something rash and destructive". Trump also spoke to Pena Nieto and, a few hours later, the White House issued a statement: NAFTA was saved, for now, and would be renegotiated - not terminated.
"I think Trump is right about this", Peterson says.
The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment. And intensity of sentiment differs widely along party lines: While 33% of Republicans believe NAFTA has been very bad for the country, only 6% of Democrats agree.
Trump acknowledged a speedy US withdrawal would be a "pretty big shock to the system", which was the basis of Trudeau's argument. In the Canadian telling, it's the "globalist" Kushner, desperate to thwart Steve Bannon and his nationalist ally Peter Navarro before they convince Trump to pull the plug on NAFTA, who initiates contact with Trudeau's office to beg him to reach out. The relationship is very special. "The two leaders continued their dialogue on Canada-U.S. trade relations, with the Prime Minister reinforcing the importance of stability and job growth in our trade relations".
Shortly after Trump's election, we noted in this space that, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Canada ($2.2 billion of Nebraska imports) and Mexico ($1.3 billion) marked the state's two largest foreign customers for goods in 2014.