One reason world leaders go to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum is to have one-on-one meetings with each other to discuss issues and build relationships.
Although Canada is the largest U.S. trading partner and traditionally America’s closest ally, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t seek or have a meeting with President Trump or any of the cabinet secretaries accompanying the U.S. president to Switzerland.
Apparently, Trump did not seek out a meeting with Trudeau either.
At a press conference, before he left – the day before Trump gives his keynote address – Trudeau said that he has “many opportunities to exchange on the regular basis with the President. We talk on the phone. We see each other at a broad range of international and local venues.”
So when was the last time Trudeau and Trump spoke? October 16.
When was the last time they met? October 11.
So more than three months later, there’s nothing to talk about?
Actually, there is a lot to discuss.
There are the tariffs the U.S. has put on Canadian softwood lumber and jet aircraft made by Bombardier; Canada’s ambitious Ocean’s Protection Plan; and Canada’s recent deal to join with 10 other countries to revive a version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that Trump refused to join.
Or they could have discussed Trump’s crackdown on immigration and his latest plan to build a giant wall not just on the Mexican border, but also along the Canadian border.
They certainly would have lots to chew over the pending renegotiation of the NAFTA agreement, the three-way trade pact with Canada that has become a major political issue in both countries.
“The Prime Minister also participated in a roundtable with key U.S. industry leaders to discuss how we can strengthen trade between Canada and the U.S.,” a statement from his office out today reports, “and modernize NAFTA to the benefit of the middle class in North America.”
Or Trudeau could have had a chat with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who, according to the Toronto Globe & Mail, “criticized Mr. Trudeau on Wednesday for using the platform of the World Economic Forum to ‘put pressure’ on the U.S. in its NAFTA negotiations.”
“We’re working very hard to show our neighbor to the south just how good NAFTA is,” Trudeau said at the World Economic Forum. https://t.co/d3LpOiABTS
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) January 24, 2018
The unflappable Trudeau insists he wasn’t causing trouble for the Trump administration when he met with business leaders asking them to sell the benefits of NAFTA to American workers and, reports The Globe & Mail, “urging them to keep investing in Canada.”
Trudeau takes shot at Trump protectionism at Davos forum https://t.co/CbyLUrV3lL
— Jeff Stein (@SpyTalker) January 24, 2018
In his own keynote address, Trudeau told reporters that he “reiterated the stand he took against corporate greed,” a very un-Trumpian stance.
“Many employees continue to put profits ahead of the well-being of their employees,” he told reporters. “We simply cannot afford to let this kind of thinking continue to dictate corporate behavior.”
It is impossible to ever imagine those words coming out of Trump’s mouth. His entire administration has been about pumping up the stock market and pleasing Wall Street, where the needs of workers take a back seat to making profits to please investors.
Trudeau is the kind of guy who worries about economic inequality being not only unfair but also a threat to civil society, as workers get angry that a handful of the super-rich keep getting wealthier while the wages and benefits for everyone else remain stagnant, even as the price of just about everything keeps going up – destroying their buying power.
Trudeau also used his trip to promote equal rights for girls and women, not just in pay, but also in terms of education.
In Davos, Trudeau announced Canada was doubling its pledge of $189 million to the Global Partnership for Education for the period from 2018 until 2020, as he put it, “to help strengthen education systems in developing countries while providing targeted support for girls education.”
In the U.S., Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is busy cutting funding for public education while promoting private charter schools that teach religion and a morality that serves the rich while ignoring the poor, male or female.
DeVos is making it more expensive for kids to go to college, and undermining programs to soften the high cost of student loans and give those who graduated long ago but still have a huge student loan debt ways to cope with the burden.
Maybe Trudeau knew that Trump would not want to discuss the high cost of healthcare in the U.S. that is sending everyone but the rich into debt and often bankruptcy, while Canada provides a single-payer system that guarantees health care as a human right.
Once the closest of friends, as well as the closest of neighbors, the U.S. and Canada now seem to be growing apart.
Canada cares about human rights and Trump cares about what Fox News says so that he can tweet about it.
It must be hard for the young, thoughtful, intelligent leader of Canada to want to be locked in a room with the boastful, lying, philandering American president, so it is not hard to see why they didn’t meet and haven’t talked in over three months.
Trudeau's biggest asset is Trump. Both as a distraction and by exhibiting such unbecoming behavior that Trudeau looks like a competent, honorable, statesman in comparison.
— JP (@csrevolution0) January 25, 2018
While all of this is painfully obvious, it is also painful for many Americans who don’t agree with Trump’s authoritarian, one-sided, regressive, inhumane views – which favor the rich over the poor – which call for deals with dictators while ignoring how they murder their own citizens – as the perception of the U.S. around the world goes from great to dismal.
“Mexico and Canada have lost confidence in the U.S. president,” Pew Research reported in June, adding that confidence in the U.S. president “declined sharply this year.”
Trump may think he is making America great but the rest of the world, according to multiple polls, does not agree – especially those in Europe.
Global respect matters. How others perceive us is good for our economy and our ability to influence outcomes… https://t.co/nHErRR99OK
— Stephen Fuhr CD MP (@FuhrMP) January 25, 2018
You can bet they have a lot higher opinion of Trudeau than they do of Trump, and the way it is going, that situation is only going to get worse.
Trudeau is right not to talk to Trump if he can avoid it. And that is unfortunate for all Americans.