Trump’s affectionate tweet about Canada’s Trudeau flies in the face of their strife
It started well enough: Soon after Donald Trump won the presidency, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated him, pledging to team with him on trade and security to give Canadians and Americans a “fair shot at success.”
But the relationship between the pair has since gone south.
First, there was Trudeau’s Jan. 28 Twitter dig at Trump’s ban on travel from seven majority-- Muslim nations: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”
Then came their first meeting, during which Trudeau famously neutralized the president's handshake.
And there was Trump’s strange decision to refer to Trudeau as “Justin from Canada” in a speech, a relaxed descriptor that struck some as dismissive.
Then there was a nasty fight over trade and tariffs, during which Trump called Canada a “disgrace” for its policies that hurt American dairy farmers. (Trudeau’s response: “The way to do that is to make arguments in a respectful fashion, based on facts, and work constructively and collaboratively with our neighbors.”)
Trump also has threatened to “get rid of NAFTA once and for all,” which would put Canada in a tough spot.
Trump, however, seems to have changed his tune — at least for a day. In honor of Canada Day, the president praised his “new found friend” on Twitter: “Happy Canada Day to all of the great people of Canada and to your Prime Minister and my new found friend @JustinTrudeau.”
That shout-out perhaps reflects Trudeau’s wide-ranging efforts to win Trump over, even as he opposes many of the president’s policies. In the days after Trump was elected, Trudeau put together a “war room” of “America-whisperers,” seeking to cultivate relationships with people around the president. The prime minister has gone out of his way to compliment Trump, praising his ability to listen and suggesting that the president is not a typical politician obsessed with being right. He also invited the president’s older daughter, Ivanka Trump, to a Broadway show in March and chaired a panel on women in business with her.
Europeans have praised Trudeau’s efforts. “The way in which Canada relates to this novelty is interesting,” Italian President Sergio Mattarella said in an interview. He praised Trudeau’s tack of finding common ground with Trump as an effective strategy, saying, “I think that Canada’s example can allow us to have good relations.”
And it has paid off in some ways. White House advisers called Trudeau to ask him to persuade Trump to remain in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The deal seems safe, at least for now.