09/11/2017 17:09 EDT | Updated 07/16/2018 11:53 EDT

Trudeau Calls Angela Merkel An 'Absolutely Extraordinary' Leader Weeks Before German Election

The German chancellor will face voters on Sept. 24.

Carlos Barria / Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 7, 2017.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has heaped praise on his German counterpart less than two weeks before Angela Merkel is set to face voters.

During a question and answer session at the Women in the World conference in Toronto Monday, event founder Tina Brown asked the prime minister what it is like to work with Merkel.

Trudeau conceded he had to be "careful" because the German chancellor is in an election campaign right now.

She's thoughtful and serious and intellectual. And I've got a nice head of hair. Apparently.

"And I don't want to comment on it because I will, of course, work with whomever gets elected. That's a line I've used a few times," he quipped, referencing his go-to statement whenever he was asked to weigh in on the U.S. presidential race last year.

"But I do have to say that Angela is absolutely extraordinary as a leader."

Trudeau added that people used to joke about the thought of him sitting down with the German chancellor.

"And I always said, well, that's sort of a mean thing to say to me. Because, you know, she's thoughtful and serious and intellectual. And I've got a nice head of hair. Apparently."

Trudeau lauded Merkel as "so interesting" and able to focus on what matters instead of being distracted by the little things that can trip up politicians.

"She's been a good friend and someone who, if the German people decide, I certainly look forward to working with for many years to come."

Germans head to the polls on Sept. 24. Merkel, who was first elected in 2005, is seeking a fourth term.

In June, Trudeau denied a report in German magazine Der Spiegel that he asked Merkel to consider removing references to the Paris climate change agreement from a draft G20 statement. The report suggested Trudeau wanted to appease President Donald Trump, who pulled the U.S. from the pact that month.

Michael Kappeler/Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are shown at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 8, 2017.

Trudeau said he did "no such thing" when NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair pressed him about the matter in question period, adding that the German government confirmed as much.

"I clearly expressed to Angela Merkel that we need to continue to work together on fighting climate change, on remaining committed to Paris," he said.

Merkel hosted the G20 summit in Hamburg in July, where she met privately with Trudeau. The final communique from the event noted the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement.

The German chancellor also said in her closing remarks that she deplored that the U.S. was exiting the climate agreement.

With a file from The Canadian Press

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