Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Trump and Trudeau Meet to Discuss Economy

  • Kristina Evans
  • Feb 14, 2017 12:14PM

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with President Trump for the first time Monday in a highly anticipated meeting. Given Trump’s constant promises to renegotiate NAFTA and his petulance to public tirades, all of North America- and most of the world- were holding their collective breath at the meeting of two men who stand on opposite ends of the spectrum on almost all aspects of governing a country.

Trump told reporters at a joint news conference that the US would not be significantly changing its trade relationship with Canada, stopping short of calling for a major realignment like he already has with Mexico. It was a development that pleased Trudeau and his Canadians.

“We have a very outstanding trade relationship with Canada. We’ll be tweaking it,” Trump said. “We’ll be doing certain things that will benefit both of our countries. Our relationship with Canada is outstanding. We are going to work together to make it even better...It’s a much less severe situation than what’s taking place on the southern border. On the southern border, for many, many years the transaction was not fair to the United States.”

Trump’s concern with NAFTA has mainly been the US trade relationship with Mexico, which he has frequently accused of stealing American jobs. But Trump appeared to have put on his thinking cap yesterday, letting everyone present know that the US and Canada were stronger when they joined forces in matters of international business, and both countries benefited from having more jobs and trade throughout North America. Trudeau, on the other hand, demonstrated his elite political breeding and skillfully dodged many questions about Canada’s trade relationships as well as his opinion on the actions of the Trump administration thus far.

“There have been times where we have differed in our approaches and that’s always been done firmly and respectfully,” Trudeau said. “The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves.”

With a country who sends 75% of its exports to the US, one can understand how Trudeau had to tread on eggshells on his visit. It appears Trudeau’s support of refugees after Trump’s travel ban had not dampened efforts at establishing a relationship, although Trump and Trudeau appeared visibly uncomfortable with each other. There is the Reuters photo making its rounds on social media that creates a hilarious- if misleading- narrative of how the meeting went.

Upon first glance, I felt a solidarity with Trudeau, thinking ‘I feel you, Justin’. The photo, though, was captured in the seconds it took Trudeau to register that Trump suggested a handshake for the photo-op. In fact, Trudeau enthusiastically shook Trump’s hand, documented and analyzed countless times, especially after the viral videos of his uncomfortable handshake with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well as the compilations of his yank-and-pull handshakes.