On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to visit and to discuss ongoing policies with Trump. Trudeau had hoped for an audience with the President of the United States, but in lieu of that, he got Trump. Of course, the U.S. was embroiled in the scandal of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and whether he did or didn’t give Russian ambassador Kislyak a heads up about impending sanctions by President Obama back on Christmas day, so it is understandable that the U.S. news outlets were too busy to cover more than the barest details of Trudeau’s visit.
Nonetheless, there were some pretty great moments, like when Trudeau got to have his picture taken standing to the left of Ivanka Trump, with a beaming proud Papa Trump on her right. And speaking of Ivanka, let us not forget the iconic photos of Ivanka gazing with adoration at the handsome, young Trudeau!
The take on the visit depends entirely which side of the border you are on. The U.S. press called the meeting boring, but the Canadians were thrilled. Both reactions seem to be a result of the fact that Trump didn’t throw any of his bombastic temper tantrums during the Trudeau visit. U.S. citizens seem to have come to a point where they look forward to these daily, sometimes hourly events, but Canadians, having a bit more sense of propriety, find them unamusing, to say the least.
Their major differences are in the areas of immigration, trade and climate change. As we all know, Trump is determined to have his way in banning refugees from at least seven Middle-Eastern nations from entering the U.S. and is not above verbally abusing judges and others in order to see his ‘orders’ carried out. Meanwhile, Trudeau welcomes refugees and the cultural diversity they bring. Asked for his opinion on Trump’s refugee ban, PM Trudeau tactfully declined to opine, saying instead, “The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves.”
Certainly the main point PM Trudeau came hoping to come to an agreement with Trump about was regarding trade, given that Trump has repeatedly said he would either ‘rip up’ the NAFTA agreement, or renegotiate it in terms more favourable to the U.S. Canada counts on trade with the United States for about 25 percent of their country’s gross domestic product and 73% of their exports. PM Trudeau and President Obama had forged a mutually beneficial working relationship, so it is no wonder that Trudeau was a bit unsure what to expect from the contentious Trump … heck, those of us who live in the U.S. do not know what to expect of him from one day to the next!
A little known episode from last month: a group of six Canadian women and two French nationals tried to enter the U.S. in order to attend the Women’s March on 21 January, but after a two-hour ordeal at the border which included a search of the car, their mobile phones being examined, each person fingerprinted, and their photo taken, they were denied access and told that if they attempted to cross the border again during the weekend, they would be arrested. Another Canadian and a British citizen were also turned away after informing border patrol agents the reason for their visit was the Women’s March. The same day, a resident of Montreal was turned away after being asked by border patrol agents whether he was ‘pro-Trump’ or ‘anti-Trump’. He was then fingerprinted, photographed, and denied entry.
At least one Canadian school district has ceased their periodic field trips into the U.S., citing safety concerns in light of Trump’s immigration ban and the unpredictability of what might happen next. We certainly can no longer claim to be a nation of hospitality, can we?
Justin Trudeau is a class act, much the same as was President Obama. Though we have the impression that he strongly disagrees with Trump’s stance on immigration and his ‘executive order’ to ban mostly Muslims from the U.S., Trudeau has never specifically criticized Trump. He has merely stated the importance of welcoming more refugees, without mentioning Trump by name. As I said, the man has class, something which is sorely lacking in Trump.
On a final note, the day after the meeting and press conference with PM Trudeau and Trump, Sean Spicer had this to say in the morning White House press briefing:
“Yesterday the president set — had an incredibly productive set of meetings and discussions with Prime Minister Joe Trudeau of Canada, focusing on our shared commitment to close cooperation in addressing both the challenges facing our two countries and the problems throughout the world.” Um, Sean? It’s Justin … Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Not Joe.
I asked one of my Canadian friends if we could trade leaders … just for a year or so. Her response, verbatim, was: “Over my dead body (and those of millions of Canucks!!) Sorry…” Guess that means ‘no’, huh? And I was even willing to throw in Bannon, Miller, Spicer, Conway, Sessions and DeVos as a bonus! Well, can’t blame me for trying. Sigh.