Trudeau should start making connections that'll be useful when Barack Obama's gone, a former ambassador said. (The Canadian Press)That name stands out, in all-caps of course, on billboards at the new hotel project being developed on Pennsylvania Avenue by the ubiquitous real-estate titan who happens to be the Republican presidential front-runner. Trudeau was asked about him this week and tried avoiding the subject. It's fair to assume he'll be asked again during his three-day visit starting Wednesday. He won't have the same luxury of anonymity as some past prime ministerial visitors whose travels might have landed closer to the crossword puzzle than the front page of major American newspapers. This Vogue-magazine-appearing, refugee-hugging, proclaimed progressive-rock-star has already been dubbed the "anti-Trump" in one Washington Post headline.
Everyone wants a ticket
A different target audience
Trudeau won't have the same luxury of anonymity as some past visiting prime ministers. (Getty Images)Hundreds are expected on the South Lawn. Unseasonably warm 26C weather is forecast for the main day of the visit Thursday — which begins with a meeting in the Oval Office, followed by a press conference with Barack Obama, lunch at the State Department, then the black-tie dinner at the White House. The trip starts Wednesday with an evening reception. It ends Friday with Trudeau speaking to a university, attending a gathering of think-tanks, and laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. The actual substance of the meetings, sources say, likely includes announcements on intelligence-sharing at the border; climate-change co-operation; and possibly on a path forward to avoid another softwood lumber war. But some skeptics — including Trudeau's political opponents at home — note that some of these things sound suspiciously similar to files already in the works under the previous government.
'Don't take sides in your words'They've also questioned how much might get done given that the president has 10 months left, and no hope of getting the Republican Congress to approve a Supreme Court justice let alone a substantive climate plan. The advice from the Canadian ambassador for the 1997 dinner? Trudeau should start making connections that'll be useful when Obama's gone, and rub elbows with other influential actors. Raymond Chretien has another suggestion for the prime minister. It involves Trump. And it's based on personal experience. Chretien says some media exaggerated simple observations he made about the two presidential candidates in 2000 — some apparently even interpreted his non-verbal communication as favouring Al Gore over George W. Bush. His advice now: "Don't get involved in American politics. Don't take sides in your words, don't take sides in your moves, don't takes sides with your smile. Don't take sides — period... My advice would be to be very careful — it's not just words, but everything. The whole demeanour... "We have to live with the Americans, whoever's in power."
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