“Do you think Donald Trump is a misogynist?”
It’s the kind of question that might shake a prime minister off his talking points, especially one who will sit down with an unpredictable, new U.S. president in weeks to talk about revising a major trade deal.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau passes by reporters at the Liberal cabinet retreat in Calgary on Jan. 24, 2017. (Photo: Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Especially a prime minister whose reputation as a feminist has sparked international headlines and acclaim.
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it clear Tuesday, speaking with reporters at the Liberal cabinet retreat in Calgary, that he isn’t going to go there.
“I am pleased to have a constructive working relationship with the new administration. It is… and I have made very clear over the past year, it is not the job of a Canadian prime minister to opine on the American electoral process,” Trudeau said.
“It is the job of the Canadian prime minister to have a constructive working relationship with the president of the United States and that is exactly what I intend to do.”
"It is not the job of a Canadian prime minister to opine on the American electoral process."
Moments earlier, Trudeau was asked about the thousands of Canadians and millions of people around the world who took to the streets Saturday to demonstrate against Trump. A reporter wondered what he might say to those who might be “uncomfortable” to see him working with Trump.
Trudeau said Canadians expect him to both seek out opportunities for the Canadian economy and “stand strong” for its values.
“We know how important a strong, positive trading relationship with the United States is for our communities, our businesses and Canadian workers,” Trudeau said. “But we also know that we have perspectives and (an) outlook that is deeply rooted in our sense of a shared opportunity and respect for rights.
“These are things that anyone who engages with Canada will understand and I look forward to, as always, as Canadians expect me to, having a positive working relationship with the new American administration.”
Trudeau's tweet goes viral
Trudeau steadfastly refused to criticize Trump during the U.S. campaign, saying it was his responsibility to work with either Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The prime minister did not release an official statement Saturday addressing the events in Canadian cities and towns that coincided with the massive Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Maryam Monsef, the new Status of Women minister, did not attend any of the marches. Monsef’s office told The Toronto Star she had “prior commitments in her riding.”
But Trudeau did take to Twitter to share his thoughts on the events.
“Congratulations to the women and men across Canada who came out yesterday to support women's rights,” he wrote Sunday. “You keep your government inspired.”
Congratulations to the women and men across Canada who came out yesterday to support women's rights. You keep your government inspired.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 22, 2017
Trudeau’s tweet made some waves and was picked up by some U.S. media outlets. “Trudeau's Response to the Women's March is Yet Another Reason You Should Move to Canada,” read the headline on Cosmopolitan.
Trump, unsurprisingly, had a different reaction to the protests.
Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2017
But the new president eventually noted that “peaceful protests” are all part of a functioning democracy.
Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2017
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