Mr. Trudeau Goes to Washington

Mr. Trudeau Goes to Washington

By Tracy Moran

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa in November.
SourceGetty/Geoff Robins


Because he’s been dubbed the Canadian JFK.

By Tracy Moran

The distinct scent of maple syrup is wafting around Washington, D.C., today: Canada’s first couple is descending on the White House for the first Canadian state dinner in almost 20 years. 

Hottie Alert!

At 44, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is an out-and-out hunk: great hair, tattoos and a quick left jab — he boxes (for charity, and wins). Wife Sophie is a yoga instructor and former journalist. They’ve got a Kennedyesque glamour, not least because Justin’s dad, Pierre Trudeau, also ran the country, twice, back in the ’70s and ’80s. He was known as a sophisticated intellectual. Junior? Not so much.

But the younger Trudeau, elected in a landslide in the fall, inspires much fawning and fan-girl hysterics. His Liberal Party got the equivalent support of two-thirds of both houses of Congress — enough to make Obama drool — and he’s just getting started. 

Qu’est-ce Que Ça Veut Dire?

Cross-border business and tourism determine much of the U.S.-Canada dynamic, but “the personal relationship between prime minister and president also plays a role,” says Dr. Xavier Gélinas, curator of political history at the Canadian Museum of History. 

John George Diefenbaker and John Kennedy didn’t see eye to eye, and while Pierre Trudeau left a bad taste in Nixon’s mouth, he and Jimmy Carter got along famously. Reagan was a hero of Brian Mulroney’s, says Gélinas, which made for a “dream combo,” and Bill Clinton and Jean Chrétien were like “two old card partners enjoying life.” Stephen Harper and Barack Obama were reportedly at odds, and Trudeau Jr. is now expected to charm his way into America’s collective heart.

At the Grown-Up Table 

Trudeau’s countrymen are looking to their leader to make good on the international stage today, much as he did at the Paris climate talks in December. The two leaders will discuss border security, curbing carbon emissions and expanding trade ties, particularly Canadian softwood lumber exports to the U.S. 

Et Alors?

Obama’s on his way out, and any newfound love between the two will be a summer romance at best. But it could set the foundation for a positive rapport between Trudeau and the next U.S. president — if it’s a Democrat — or serve as a fond memory for the Canadian after he receives a bill from Donald Trump for a newly installed 40-foot-high wall south of Toronto. 

Our bet’s on the Canadian — and his mean right hook.