POLITICS

Trudeau's Baltic Nations Quip Gets Response From European Politicians

12/17/2015 12:13 EST | Updated 12/17/2015 12:13 EST

"That's not a thing" is, it seems, a bit of a thing.

In a Maclean's video that went viral this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fielded a number of fun, rapid-fire questions to promote a town hall hosted by the magazine Wednesday.

Somewhere in between answering whether or not he prefers sunrises or sunsets ("definitely sunrise") and naming his second-favourite Justin ("Timberlake… he's a real JT"), Trudeau faced a curveball. He was asked to state his favourite Baltic nation.

"That's not a thing" he said.

And with those four words, the prime minister has sparked perhaps his strangest controversy since taking office last month.

Some on Twitter immediately accused the prime minister of not thinking Baltic nations were real or grasping geography.

That was also the narrative pushed by the Conservative Party in some posts to Facebook and Twitter.

Don't worry, Justin Trudeau. We got you covered: http://bfy.tw/3IOv

Posted by Conservative Party of Canada - Parti conservateur du Canada on Tuesday, December 15, 2015


The Baltic Nations aren't "a thing"? SHARE to show Justin Trudeau that maybe geography is not his thing.

Posted by Conservative Party of Canada - Parti conservateur du Canada on Tuesday, December 15, 2015


The story was picked up overseas. UpNorth, a website catering to Baltic countries, featured the clip in a short piece that highlighted how Trudeau has "had numerous challenges with foreign policy gaffes."

Baltic politicians respond with cheeky clip

Now, a handful of European politicians have gotten involved. Antanas Guoga, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Lithuania, posted a Christmas-themed response video to YouTube Thursday.

Guoga, a former professional poker player, appears in the clip with MEPs from Latvia and Estonia.

"This is a message for Justin Trudeau that Baltic countries exist," the Estonian politician says.

They also sing the praises of their respective countries — including that Skype was created in Estonia and that Toronto Raptors player Jonas Valanciunas was born in Lithuania. It all ends with a cheerful "Merry Christmas."

Trudeau told Maclean's Wednesday that he meant that choosing a favourite Baltic nation was "not a thing." He told the magazine that he of course knew the Baltics exist "because he used to date a woman from one of those countries."

So, controversy over? Not according to Sun Media columnist Anthony Furey who dubbed the entire episode a "blunder" in a piece Wednesday.

Furey's piece noted that an article in an Estonian newspaper wondered if Canada's new prime minister doesn't see Baltic nations as important or even know about them.

"Well that's just great. Trudeau faced one hard question and he blundered it such that he's raised doubts about Canada's seriousness on the world stage," Furey wrote.

Ambrose calls it 'unfortunate'

But interim Tory Leader Rona Ambrose was at a loss when asked for her response to Trudeau's Baltic remarks during an interview with Andrew Lawton of London, Ontario's AM980.

Ambrose conceded she hadn't seen the clip but called it "unfortunate."

"I think the concern we have about some of the foreign policy issues, particularly the issue around the fight against ISIS is… my concern is… he doesn't take these issues as seriously as he should," she said.

Ambrose went on to speak for a few minutes about Trudeau's "shameful" plan with withdraw Canadian jets from the fight against ISIS.

You can hear Ambrose's response to the Baltic quip at around the 17:55 mark:

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