Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the APEC Summit in Manila. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
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Trudeau repeats campaign pledges on ISIS, refugeesRepeatedly, Trudeau explained this past week that these were promises that he made to get elected, which were based on listening to Canadians. That sparked partisan political attacks back home that he wasn't being nimble enough in reacting to the Paris terrorist attacks that unfolded just as he was preparing to fly out of Ottawa last week. Some analysts say Trudeau's first foreign policy steps have been a bit too rigid, especially in light of the Paris attacks. "The prime minister's response to the crisis has been to lash himself to the mast of his election commitments on refugees and to withdraw our CF-18s from the allied bombing campaign," said Fen Hampson, director of the global security program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. "We are already seeing that soft power, not hard power, will define Mr. Trudeau's global security policies and international engagements." At the moment, it's an open question whether Trudeau struck the right balance in the face of renewed threats to Western countries, Hampson said.
"Soft power, not hard power, will define Mr. Trudeau's global security policies."One of Trudeau's trump cards coming into these two summits was the legacy of his father, Pierre. Earlier in Turkey, China's President Xi Jinping told Trudeau his father had exhibited "extraordinary political vision" in establishing relations with his country, and he wanted to move them forward. South Korean President Park Geun-hye was effusive in her meeting with Trudeau at APEC saying she hoped Trudeau — like his father —would succeed in "achieving real change" in Canada's foreign policy. Pierre Trudeau "spent a great deal of energy strengthening and enhancing Canada's relationship with Asian countries and likewise I do trust that you will serve the cause of peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific as well," Park told the prime minister. Hampson said the legacy of Trudeau's father set the tone of his first meetings with leaders from Asia, a region the prime minister has placed particular economic emphasis on. "If this translates into a deeper engagement and reorientation towards the Asia-Pacific, this will be all for the good at a time when Canada must tap into these markets for its future growth and prosperity," said Hampson. But first, Hampson said Trudeau's new government must firmly commit itself to the TPP — a view shared by many others, including U.S. President Barack Obama and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. "Right now, that is the only game in town." As for Canada's top bilateral relationship with the United States, Trudeau's meeting with Obama unfolded smoothly despite some recent disagreement on the ill-fated Keystone XL pipeline. Obama extended a warm invitation to the White House to Trudeau and his wife. "Across the board," the president said, "our interests align."