It was an eagerly anticipated match, pitting a self-described feminist who has welcomed more than 40,000 Syrian refugees to his country against a president who once bragged about grabbing women and has sought to crack down on immigration.
But anyone expecting Justin Trudeau to stand up to Donald Trump probably came away disappointed on Monday, as the Canadian prime minister met with the new president for the first time.
“The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves,” Trudeau told reporters at a joint press conference, after standing by as Trump gave an unapologetic defence of his controversial travel ban.
Trudeau continued: “My role, our responsibility, is to continue to govern in a such a way that reflects Canadians’ approach and be a positive example in the world.”
Although some might have longed for Trudeau to stake out the moral high ground – on Trump’s travel ban, his casual misogyny or his bullying rhetoric against allies such as Mexico – Monday’s meeting was always going to focus on cold economic realities.
Since the inauguration, Canadian officials have taken every opportunity possible to point to the economic growth – and millions of jobs – which depend on cross-border trade.
And in terms of cold realpolitik, the tactic seemed to have paid off: Trump praised the countries’ economic ties and implicitly contrasted warm relations with Canada with the festering diplomatic crisis with Mexico.
“We have a very outstanding trade relationship with Canada….