If you have access to the internet, you might have seen the photos and video that chronicle the beautiful political bromance that is Trubama (the power duo consisting of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Former-President Barack Obama, for the unindoctrinated). For one glorious year, the two North American leaders’ terms overlapped and we got to watch them and their incredible wives hang out and talk about international policy or whatever it is insanely good-looking world leaders do. This year, we got a quite a stark change with the introduction of Donald J. Trump, who is apparently the president of the United States now. Yeah, it still feels wrong to us, too.
Over the course of the past year, Trudeau and Trump have differed greatly on most issues including (but not limited to) international trade, climate change, green energy, free speech, journalism, transgender rights, refugees, immigration and feminism. In an interview this month, Lisa LaFlamme asked Trudeau about his huge personal and political differences with the president and rather than blast Trump for his archaic and self-motivated views, JT used every ounce of his polite Canadian upbringing to say positive things about the near-authoritarian leader.
“He’s a deal-maker,” Trudeau told LaFlamme, “He’s a negotiator… The thing that reassures me fundamentally is he got elected on a commitment to help people; to ‘make America great again’ for the people who felt that American progress hadn’t helped them.”
It makes us cringe a little to hear Trudeau used The Donald’s catchphrase, but the PM has almost managed to reframe the MAGA ideal to make it seem like the “silent majority” to which it caters isn’t generally intolerant and hostile. Almost. When LaFlamme pressed Trudeau about the fact that he and Trump hold opposing values on nearly every issue, again he was diplomatic in his answer.
“He knows exactly what I stand for and where I come from because I keep telling him; I keep reminding him,” the PM said, “There’s a frankness to our engagement that he knows where I’m coming from, I know where he’s coming from and we’re going to figure out — because geography and intertwined economies have thrust us together — how to get along and how to work together in a cordial way.
“Over this past year, someone mentioned that I’ve spent more time engaging with Donald Trump than I did with Barack Obama,” Trudeau continued, “I think because there are more issues that we disagree on, we have to engage a little bit more, but … my job is to have a constructive relationship with the president and stand up clearly and strongly for Canadian values and make sure he and the world knows that. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.”
It might have been cool to watch Trudeau rail on Trump the way the president does on other people, but that’s just not Trudeau’s style. He didn’t even make any sly digs at his American counterpart. Realistically, giving a completely respectful and diplomatic answer about Donald Trump is kind of the shadiest thing Trudeau could have done. He took the moral high ground when the president so often goes in for the low blow. Well played, Trudeau, well played.
You can watch the full interview with Lisa LaFlamme Dec. 29 at 8:00pm on CTV.