Justin Trudeau

“There is no relationship quite like the relationship between Canada and the United States”, states the Canadian PM at the University of Toronto, in conversation with Peter Baker, The Chief White House Correspondent for the New York Times. The Pavlovic Today takes a close look at the future and the meaning of US-Canadian relations.

“There is no relationship quite like the relationship between Canada and the United States. It is not like most countries where the connections happen through leaders and diplomats. The connections between Canada and the U.S. go through the President and the Prime Minister but also through Congress, through Senators, through Governors, through Mayors, and through the industry, through people, businesses, entrepreneurs. We have massive levels of interconnectedness and Canadians and Americans have always used the depth of the relationship and how we get along…”, said Prime Minister Trudeau in what has been seen as his “off-the-cuff” talk in front of Canada’s brightest at the University of Toronto. This, however, should not come as a surprise, as the young Trudeau has demonstrated on numerous occasions his capacity to connect with millennials.

The atmosphere at Canada’s prestigious university was more light-hearted than intense, and the Prime Minister sportingly answered all questions that were asked of him. However, his casual style should not be taken as some superficial and opportunistic way to play to the millennial constituency.  Perhaps Trudeau’s power lies in the fact that he can connect to the generational voting body, and at the same time send the message of justice, hope, and freedom to the world at large.

On the surface, it may appear that The Chief White House Correspondent of the NYT Peter Baker may have just been holding a casual “chit chat” with Canada’s most powerful man in  politics, but anyone with an understanding of political science should be able to discern that the effortless elegance of the interviewing style of the WH press corps member comes with the experience. In that sense, this conversation on US-Canada relations is historic, as it truly represents a true dialogue and speaks volumes to the progressive politics of Justin Trudeau.

When he was asked a question by Catherine Porter regarding the term,“doughnut strategy” used  by Max Fischer in a New York Times column, with respect to Trudeau’s conducts and behaviour towards President Trump, the Prime Minister jokingly responded that he thinks “of the manner more as a bun than a doughnut.”

This term emanates from growing frequencies of Canadian politicians – mayors, cabinet ministers, premiers – visiting different parts of the U.S. to deliberate with U.S. governors and mayors, in an effort to “work their way around Trump and his plans”, as stated by Catherine Porter.

Trudeau: “Trump Does Listen”

Speaking about his relationship with President Trump, Trudeau said that even though they both disagree on a wide variety of issues, they try to find ways in which they can work together.

“One of the things that I have learnd about Trump is that he does listen” Trudeau said.

“There are a lot of politicians who have a deep,  invested interest in being right all the time and therefore close themselves off sometimes to facts or evidence or differing opinions. What I found from this President is that he will listen to arguments made, he will look at the ensemble of facts, of proposals, of impacts put together and he will be open to shifting his position,” the Prime Minster said.

Trudeau also shared his views on the debate around NAFTA.“To terminate it suddenly would be far more disruptive than re-negotiating it”, he said. He said the two countries should look towards updating or reforming NAFTA, in succession of the same process it has been updated under on various occasions over the past 25 years.

The veteran WH Correspondent Peter Baker asked Prime Minister Trudeau if there was a way that the United States would try to renegotiate the Paris Climate Accord or negotiate something outside of Paris.

 “We’re not reopening and renegotiating Paris, that’s simply not on the table. It’s an awful lot of work, getting to the consensus we did and it’s a good deal, it’s the right deal, it’s the path forward for the world and it’s a clear market signal amongst other things that people are adjusting and pricing in, and we are not going back on that.”

Apart from NAFTA and the relationship between the two countries, discourse varied and often drifted to more mundane topics, like PM Trudeau’s ‘photobombing’ and  President Trump’s tweets.

“I think modern means of communication has led to adjustments in how we function in a large way. There’s no question that the way the President chooses to speak directly to people through social media is a new wrinkle in international diplomacy” he said humorously.

During one of the most politically intense periods in North America’s history,  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s  interview at the University of Toronto about international politics and Canada’s growingly mercurial relationship with the U.S painted a fairly elaborate portrait of the current state of global affairs.

The biggest takeaway is that Canadian youth came to listen and evaluate the politics of the leader they can all relate to, perhaps in efforts to keep him accountable as their elected leader. Despite his popularity among the younger generation, Trudeau won’t be getting a free pass from the youth anytime soon.


Sayeh Yousefi and Ateeya Sandhu have contributed to this report.

Ateeya Sandhu is studying International Relations at the University of Toronto. She is an avid reader who is extremely passionate about feminism, equality rights and social problems in India. An altruist...

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