WASHINGTON — Justin Trudeau will attend four international summits within his first month in office, making foreign affairs an early front upon which he'll be tested as a rookie prime minister.
There had been doubt about whether he'd have to skip a summit, given that he's forming a cabinet during the busiest month on the international leaders' calendar.
But it was confirmed Monday that after his swearing-in this week Trudeau will go to a G20 leaders' meeting in Turkey on Nov. 15-16, then an APEC summit in the Philippines, a Commonwealth leaders' gathering in Malta and climate talks in Paris starting at the end of the month.
"Canada must be fully and firmly committed on the international stage, not only for our own success, but also for the success of others around the world,'' Trudeau said in a statement.
"Being engaged internationally is critical for creating economic growth, good-paying jobs for the middle-class, and broad-based prosperity for all Canadians.''
Some of the big international issues he'll have to manage soon after taking office are: Canada's climate-change commitment, the contribution to fighting Islamic rebels in the Middle East and his position on the new 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership deal reached during the campaign.
He'd already announced plans to be at the climate summit with provincial premiers. His decision to attend the earlier meetings means he'll get facetime with counterparts before the high-stakes Paris talks.
A U.S. official briefing journalists on the APEC summit said he hasn't heard yet of any changes in Canadian policy with respect to the Asia-Pacific gathering.
"Canada has a new prime minister. We welcome the prime minister into the APEC family,'' the State Department's Matt Matthews told reporters in Washington.
"But Canada is not a new member. Canada is a very significant and important member of APEC — one which we work with very closely.''
There have been questions raised in Washington about what a new Canadian government might mean for the ratification of the TPP deal and for the international coalition against ISIL.
But the Obama administration hasn't publicly expressed concern on either front. In fact, at Monday's briefing, when TPP came up it was in response to a question about whether the pact faced trouble in Malaysia.
Matthews conceded the deal could face a bumpy road to ratification in different places — including in the U.S., where an intense struggle is expected next year in Congress.
He expressed confidence, however, that it would ultimately be approved in all 12 countries.
"It doesn't mean that it won't take a lot of work,'' said the U.S. official.
"Even in our own country we anticipate it's going to be a major effort to make sure we do a good job of explaining the actual outcomes of TPP and what the benefits are.
"But we remain optimistic. And we remain optimistic across all the participating economies.''
Matthews laid out some of the objectives for the gathering of Asia-Pacific leaders.
One is to nail down a commitment to eliminate tariffs on exported alternative-energy products like solar panels and wind turbines. There's also a plan to get each country to review its fossil-fuel subsidy programs.
Also on the agenda are the free flow of data between countries; marine debris; and a still-embryonic, long-term project to create a Pacific Rim trade deal larger than the TPP.
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