Did Canada Burn Down the White House?

While tensions between President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have flared in recent trade talks, the U.S. leader reportedly suggested that bad blood between the two nations goes a long way back—more than 200 years, to be exact.

In a tense phone call with Trudeau on May 25 over new tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, the president apparently invoked the War of 1812.

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President Donald Trump reportedly erroneously suggested that the White House had been burned down by Canada in the War of 1812 in a May 25 phone call with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty

Asked by Trudeau how he could justify the tariffs as a "national security" issue, Trump said: "Didn't you guys burn down the White House?" sources familiar with the call told CNN.

How the Canadian prime minister responded is not clear, but it's not hard to imagine that the rest of the phone call amounted to something of a history lesson.

While it is true that the White House was burned down during the War of 1812, it was British troops that torched it. It would be more than 50 years until Canada was even founded as a country.

The British attack was in retaliation for America's assault on York, Ontario, a then-British colony that would later go on to form part of Canada.

While Britain was successful in burning down the White House and much of Washington, it failed in its larger goal to capture Baltimore.

The war ultimately ended in a deadlock, with both sides returning all territorial conquests with the signing of the treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814.

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Tensions between Canada and the U.S. have become increasingly strained after President Donald Trump announced increased tariffs without approval from Congress, claiming 'national security' reasons.  Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty

More than 200 years later, tensions between Canada and the U.S. have become increasingly strained, especially after the U.S. president announced increased tariffs without approval from Congress, claiming "national security" reasons.

In an interview with NBC on Sunday, Trudeau called the move "insulting."

"One of the things that I have to admit I'm having a lot of trouble getting around is the idea that this entire thing is coming about because the president and the administration have decided that Canada and Canadian steel and aluminum is a national security threat to the United States," the Canadian prime minister said.

Read more: Justin Trudeau: Idea Canada Is a Security Threat to U.S. Is 'Insulting'

"Our soldiers had fought and died together on the beaches of world war two and the mountains of Afghanistan and have stood shoulder to shoulder in some of the most difficult places in the world, that are always there for each other, somehow—this is insulting to that," said Trudeau. "The idea that the Canadian steel that's in military vehicles in the United States, the Canadian aluminum that makes your fighter jets is somehow now a threat."

Trudeau also hit out at Trump's claim that the U.S. has long suffered unfair trade deals, saying: "[Trump's] worried about trade surpluses, trade deficits around the world. Well, they have a $2 billion surplus on steel with us. So it's not like the trade is imbalanced against the U.S. favor on this one."

The U.S. leader is expected to arrive in Canada on Friday for the 44th annual G7 summit, which is being held in Quebec.

Trudeau said he expects "difficult" conversations with Trump, telling reports the group of seven allies face "frank and at times difficult conversations around the G7 table, particularly with the American president on trade, on tariffs," according to the Toronto Star. "At the same time," he added, "this is why we have G7 meetings."

The meeting will be Trump's first official trip to Canada as president.

Did Canada Burn Down the White House? | U.S.