It would be easy for Justin Trudeau to use Donald Trump to score political points at home. Part of Trudeau’s popularity is that to many Canadians he looks good in comparison to the US President. There are many people who have worn a Twitter attack from Trump as a badge of honour. And being perceived as too close to Trump carries some political risk. So Trudeau could earn domestic credibility by positioning himself as the scrappy Canadian standing up to the American bully.
But to his credit, Trudeau has put the country’s interests first. Despite having a much different world view from Trump, Trudeau has taken a very diplomatic approach, focusing on the tricky path of building a relationship with the volatile and mercurial president. So far, it’s worked. Trump seems to genuinely like and trust Trudeau. It may not produce a NAFTA deal but it creates the best opportunity for Canada to continue to prosper from its most vital relationship. Trudeau deserves credit for uncharacteristically putting substance ahead of symbolism and taking the road less travelled to Washington.