'Didn't you guys burn down the White House?
'Didn't you guys burn down the White House?' Trump uses War of 1812 to justify Canada as security threat.
Some men from Canada did burn down the presidential mansion in 1814, but they were all technically British.
A contemporary illustration of the presidential mansion after it was burned by British troops in 1814.Wikimedia Commons.
During a testy phone call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. president Donald Trump reportedly cited the War of 1812 in order to justify seeing Canada as a security threat.
“Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” he told Trudeau, according to sources cited by CNN.
The reason for the call was the U.S. imposition of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, which Trump has justified on national security grounds.
The new tariffs, announced last week, sparked disbelief from across the political spectrum in Canada. For more than a century, the United States has had no problem building military equipment out of Canadian raw materials. Most famously, the country’s first atomic bombs were fuelled in part by Canadian uranium.
“Canada is a secure supplier of aluminum and steel to the U.S. Defence industry, putting aluminum in American planes and steel in American tanks,” Trudeau said last week. “That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland made the same argument in a CNN appearance, saying “do you really think Canada … represents a national security threat to you?”
Trudeau was apparently arguing Canada’s loyalty directly to the U.S. president when Trump fired back about the Burning of Washington.
In August of 1814, the U.S. federal capital was indeed invaded and burned by troops based in what is now Canada. Facing little to no resistance, the soldiers destroyed both the U.S. Capitol and the presidential mansion in one day of looting and destruction.
The current-day White House, from which Trump was likely taking Trudeau’s call, had to be mostly rebuilt as a result of the fire.
However, the soldiers who sacked Washington were all British.
Granted, at the time Canada was still a British colony and any resident there would have been considered British.
However, the soldiers who burned down Washington were all expeditionary troops sent direct from Great Britain, unlike the local militias and Indigenous warriors who had done much of the fighting during earlier U.S. attempts to invade what is now Ontario.
And, of course, the nation of Canada that Trudeau represents would not officially come into being until 53 years after the events of that war.
Nevertheless, the War of 1812 remains the last full-scale conflict that pitted Canadian against American, and it remains a point of contention between both countries. Notably, the citizenship guide for both the United States and Canada each claims that their country won the war.
In retaliation for the U.S. tariffs, Canada has proposed a $16.6-billion tariff package on common Canadian imports from the United States, including beer kegs, appliances and decorative candles.
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