President Trump set to meet Canada’s Trudeau at the White House
(CNN) — President Donald Trump will meet for the first time Monday with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, an ideological opposite who nonetheless hopes to avoid clashing with his new US counterpart.
In his previous US visits, Trudeau found a leader almost exactly aligned with his liberal worldview and youthful image. In return, then-President Barack Obama met with Trudeau often, counseling his younger ally on how to best advocate for the progressive agenda he championed.
Now, Trudeau is arriving to a very different White House. He will balance the need to maintain close ties with a mandate from anxious Canadians to press Trump on his more controversial views.
The meeting is Trump’s third official visit from a head of government at the White House. In his first three weeks in office, he’s also welcomed the British and Japanese prime ministers, and will host Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday.
Trump’s previous bilateral sessions were marked by comity and a focus on shared priorities. But in Trudeau, Trump will encounter a leader further apart from him in both age and global outlook than his previous two visitors.
Aides both in Washington and Ottawa insist Trump and Trudeau will seek to emphasize neighborly bonds during their first face-to-face meeting, but their stylistic approaches will be on full view during a midday news conference.
Disputes between the US and Canada rarely veer into anything resembling combativeness, though disagreements do exist, including on the import of softwood lumber and, under Obama, the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which Canada supports (Trump took action early in his term to restart the process of building the oil pipeline).
Under Trump, however, the differences between the two countries could become more plain. Trudeau, a 45-year-old liberal, has made a point of actively welcoming refugees fleeing war in Syria, even visiting the Toronto airport in 2015 to greet a planeload of migrants.
When Trump signed his controversial executive order barring Syrian refugees entry into the country, Trudeau wrote a pointed message on Twitter: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength. #WelcomeToCanada.”
The message was accompanied by a photo of the Prime Minister greeting a young girl during his 2015 visit to the airport.
Even then, though, Trudeau refused to actively criticize the immigration order, which is currently mired in legal challenges and, for now, on hold.
He said Friday he planned to discuss “all sorts of things that we align on” with Trump, but would also confront areas of disagreement “in a respectful way,”
Refugee policy isn’t the only divide between Trudeau and Trump. The leaders have expressed vastly differing views on climate change and economic policy as well.
Trump has vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement between Mexico, the US, and Canada, though detailed talks about what’s to be included in a new accord weren’t likely to be hashed out Monday.