PM’s visit re­stores touch of nor­mal­ity

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - — Peter Epp

One of the rea­sons why Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s visit with the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent on Mon­day went so well was be­cause the ex­change was so or­di­nary.

In­deed, although there were plenty of po­lit­i­cal the­atrics else­where in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion that day (na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn re­signed af­ter re­port­edly ly­ing to then-in­com­ing vi­cepres­i­dent Mike Pence about the dis­cussion of Rus­sian sanc­tions with a Rus­sian di­plo­mat in the days be­fore the ad­min­is­tra­tion was sworn in), the pres­i­dent’s meet­ing with Trudeau rep­re­sented per­haps the calmest mo­ment Don­ald Trump and the Amer­i­can peo­ple have ex­pe­ri­enced since Trump was sworn into of­fice only 25 days ear­lier.

Trudeau has been re­ceiv­ing high praise for his per­for­mance, but it’s not like he used ex­tra­or­di­nary skills with Trump. Trudeau was po­lite and diplo­matic. He smiled a lot. He was gra­cious. He wasn’t of­fen­sive.

In other words, the Cana­dian prime min­is­ter ex­hib­ited all of the char­ac­ter­is­tics that most Western lead­ers have tra­di­tion­ally used when deal­ing with each other — at least up un­til Trump’s un­con­ven­tional cam­paign and un­ex­pected as­cent to the White House.

The ex­change be­tween Trudeau and Trump pro­vided the Amer­i­can peo­ple with an un­usual mo­ment of nor­mal­ity, plopped within a swirling sea of ab­nor­mal­i­ties and ab­sur­di­ties. The Cana­dian prime min­is­ter’s very pres­ence in Wash­ing­ton helped to il­lus­trate the kind of sta­bil­ity that ap­pears to be lack­ing within the Trump camp.

That’s good. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two na­tions is too close, too pre­cious, too im­por­tant to be com­pro­mised by the kind of cu­ri­ous blus­ter Trump and his peo­ple have been feed­ing on. Trudeau played the meet­ing beau­ti­fully by ex­hibit­ing the best qual­i­ties of Cana­dian states­man­ship.

That’s not to say Trump and the Repub­li­cans won’t try to take ad­van­tage of Canada’s eco­nomic as­sets to boost Amer­i­can busi­ness. From the day in 2015 when he an­nounced his can­di­dacy for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion, Trump made it clear he wanted to re­store what he sees as Amer­ica’s lost great­ness, and at the core of his mes­sage was the restora­tion of man­u­fac­tur­ing and the jobs that ac­com­pany that ac­tiv­ity.

Mex­ico was an easy tar­get for Trump, but the trade be­tween Canada and the U.S. dwarfs the ex­change be­tween the U.S. and Mex­ico. And while Mex­ico has much to lose if Trump blus­ter be­comes Trump pol­icy, the stakes are sig­nif­i­cantly higher for Canada.

Trudeau’s calm con­duct on Mon­day helped de­flate any blus­ter and re­store nor­malcy to what could have been a dif­fi­cult en­counter.

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