Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exercised his own brand of soft diplomacy Monday, breaking the ice at a joint press conference with Donald Trump by comparing Washington’s balmy weather to the winter winds raging north of the border.
“Any day I get to visit our southern neighbours is a good day in my book,” Trudeau told reporters gathered in the White House’s East Room. “Particularly when it’s so nice and warm compared to what it is back home.”
President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participate in a joint news conference in the White House on Feb. 13 (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Trudeau arrived from Ottawa earlier in the day, where temperatures dipped just below zero. In Washington D.C., the mercury was approximately 10 degrees higher.
The prime minister used the remark to set up a statement about a “particularly harsh” slow-moving blizzard pummeling Atlantic Canada with ice and snow.
“I just want to send everyone back at home my thoughts as they shovel out, and impress on everyone to stay safe,” he said.
Meteorologists warned residents in some parts of Nova Scotia could see as much as 75 centimetres of snow on the ground. Power outages have also been widely reported by those living in the region.
President stresses common ground amid ‘dangerous times’
Trump, who delivered his opening remarks before Trudeau, spoke at length about finding common ground between the two nations.
Without using the word “Muslim” or “ban,” the president made one mention of “cross-border travel and migration” before expressing his intention to build on a “very historic friendship” between the two countries.
“We should co-ordinate closely — and we will co-ordinate closely — to protect jobs in our hemisphere and keep wealth on our continent, and to keep everyone safe,” Trump said.
After the press conference wrapped, Trudeau was ushered to another room where House Speaker Paul Ryan stood waiting.
The two men barely sat down when Trudeau apologized to the prominent Republican for not seeing him the last time he was in town.
“Yeah, we get a little busy around here,” Ryan said before breaking the ice himself with some 49th parallel small talk. “Well I’m from Wisconsin so I’m your neighbour, just across the lake.”
“The only problem we have is you steal our good hockey players.”
The prime minister and Ryan briefly exchanged remarks acknowledging the importance of a strong Canada-U.S. economic before Ryan pulled back to make an irresistible quip about hockey.
“Yeah, the only problem we have is you steal our good hockey players. That’s our problem.”
Trudeau — who told the president earlier it’s not his place to “lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves” — had a quick-witted response ready for Ryan.
“It’s not our fault if they want to come play for us, you know,” he said. “We have better teams.”