03/10/2016 09:54 EST | Updated 03/11/2017 05:12 EST

Don't Expect Trudeau To Pick A Fight With Trump In Washington

MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images
US President Barack Obama and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take part in a welcome ceremony during a State Visit on the South Lawn of the White House on March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

This world leader has been called the "Anti-Trump."

Yes, that sounds like the perfect title for Barak Obama. Whereas Donald Trump blusters seemingly randomly at those around him, Obama keeps his cool like a gentleman from Kingsman.

Whereas Trump spews vitriol at various visible minorities, Obama is himself a visible minority.

Whereas Trump talks about building a walls ("Let's build a higher wall..."), Obama has been building bridges his whole life.

But Obama is not the world leader dubbed the "Anti-Trump" by the Washington Post. That honour falls to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

American media might just be picking up on Trudeau's approach to politics and its stark contrast to that of Trump, but Canadian media have been abuzz with Trudeau's anti-Trump stance since last December.

With Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, being honoured at a White House State Dinner, all eyes are on Trudeau. Will he comment on Trump when in the company of a president who would surely share his views?

What can we expect Trudeau to say about Trump in Washington? Nothing. What can we expect him to say about diversity? And inclusiveness? And building bridges? A lot!

No. "I'm not going to pick a fight with Donald Trump right now. I'm not going to support him either, obviously," he said at the Huffington Post Town Hall.

So, what has changed since December?

Nothing. Going back to December, Trudeau responded to a simple question, whether he would "stand up to Trump and condemn his hateful rhetoric."

Contrary to what one might assume by reading the headlines, Trudeau never actually answered the question. He spoke about the importance of Canada's prime minister being able to work with the American president, whoever he might be.

Then he broke into a lecture about how to do politics his way.

Trudeau did not mention Trump by name, not once. He did talk about how diversity is a strength, not a weakness. He did talk about how "fear doesn't make us safer, it makes us weaker." He did point out that ISIS kills mostly Muslims, so blaming Muslims in general for terrorism "is not just ignorant, it's irresponsible."

Those who love nothing better than a good cat fight will insist that the prime minister was taking jabs at Trump. But his comments were completely in line with his campaign themes in the last election, when he suggested sending airplanes with immigration officials to Syria to airlift refugees, as Canada did with the Vietnamese boat people in 1979.

His comments in December echoed the "one in particular" story he told during his election victory speech, about the Muslim woman approaching him in her Hajib, seeking a Canada where her daughter would be free to make her own choices in life.

And those same comments are now reflected in the banner that for several weeks was a fixture on (and is still up on the prime minister's own pages): #WelcomeRefugees.

Let's not forget that Trudeau's father, when he was prime minister in 1971, made multiculturalism an official government policy.

Despite all the hoopla around his remarks in December, Trudeau was actually careful not to comment on Trump, specifically.

What can we expect Trudeau to say about Trump in Washington? Nothing.

What can we expect him to say about diversity? And inclusiveness? And building bridges? A lot! In fact, it's hard to imagine Trudeau passing an hour without talking about those favourite topics of his. And in the current president, he is likely to find a receptive audience.

That's a good thing for Canada. The two countries always accomplish more when the president and the prime minister get along. Who can forget Brain Mulroney and Ronald Reagan singing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" together?

The result was the Free Trade Accord. And a pact to clean up acid rain. And the Commission on Environmental Cooperation. And advances on Arctic sovereignty. And a softwood lumber deal? Well, you can't win them all.

Obama won't be president for long, but if the two men with a similar world view can get down to business while Trudeau is visiting in Washington this week, they might be able to move some important files along, including environmental protection in the Arctic, enhanced trade, border security, joint action on climate change, a new softwood lumber agreement and ratification of the Trans Pacific Partnership, to name but a few.

When a new president is sworn in next January, who knows what lies ahead for Canada-U.S. relations? One thing is for certain: if Trudeau has to call on president Trump, he will not have a receptive ear -- not because he took pot shots at him during the primaries, but because the two men simply do not speak the same language.

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