Trump’s af­fec­tion­ate tweet about Canada’s Trudeau flies in the face of their strife

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - amanda.erick­son@wash­ Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­ worldviews AMANDA ERICK­SON

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.

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