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The Evolution of Justin Trudeau’s Statements on Donald Trump

The Canadian prime minister almost sounded angry with Trump in public today.

by Allison Tierney
Jun 20 2018, 6:45pm

Image via EPA/NEIL HALL

It may not sound like much compared to the hellhole that is Twitter, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had his strongest words yet for US President Donald Trump.

“What’s going on in the United States is wrong. I can’t imagine what the families living through this are enduring,” Trudeau said of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting undocumented migrants, which has seen children separated from their parents and detained.

“Obviously this is not the way we do things in Canada.”

(Obviously, a complete coincidence but Trump said shortly after this that he’s going to “signing something” soon to keep families together. What a hero.)

For the record, Canada has locked up underage migrants who haven’t committed any crimes before. But, Trudeau’s statement today—flat-out calling a Trump policy “wrong”—seemingly is a turning point in US-Canadian relations during the Trump era. Throughout (and even before) Trump’s presidency, Trudeau has usually maintained a level of cordiality when discussing Trump himself and his administration’s policies.

Let’s take a look at some highlights of what Trudeau has said about Trump and how his language has evolved on the US president.

October 2016

Shortly before the US presidential campaign, audio was leaked of Trump going on a sexist rant, including the infamous “grab her by the pussy” comment. How did Canada’s self-proclaimed feminist prime minister react?

"This relationship goes far deeper than any two personalities at their countries' respective heads," Trudeau said. "This is my responsibility. I think, however, I've been very clear in my approach as a feminist, as someone who has stood clearly and strongly through all my life around issues of sexual harassment, standing against violence against women, that I don't need to make any further comment."

Ranking on Canadian politeness scale: Almost completely avoiding the subject.

November 2016

Trudeau congratulated Trump on being elected US president and, at an event in Ottawa, said, “We're going to work with our neighbours, and I'm going to work with president-elect Trump's administration, as we move forward in a positive way for, not just Canadians and Americans, but the whole world.”

In a statement earlier the same day, Trudeau said: "The relationship between our two countries serves as a model for the world. Our shared values, deep cultural ties, and strong integrated economies will continue to provide the basis for advancing our strong and prosperous partnership."

Ranking on Canadian politeness scale: Maybe everything will be fine, eh?

January 2017

After Trump issued an executive order banning travellers from seven Muslim countries, Trudeau did what all world leaders do in times of moral crisis—took to Twitter.

“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” Trudeau tweeted.

Ranking on Canadian politeness scale: Subtweet much?

February 2017

February 13, 2017 marked Trudeau and Trump’s first official face-to-face meeting, which occurred at the White House after an epic handshake. That day, the two leaders issued a joint statement.

“No two countries share deeper or broader relations than Canada and the United States. We are bound together by our history, our values, our economy, our environment, and our resolve to improve the lives of our citizens,” the statement opened with. “Our close relationship and ongoing collaboration allow us to successfully meet any challenges we may face over the coming years, and to build a prosperous future for the people of both countries.”

Alongside Trudeau, Trump said, “Both of us are committed to bringing prosperity and opportunity to our people.”

Ranking on Canadian politeness scale: Boring is beautiful.

June 2017

After the US withdrew from the Paris Agreement, a historic accord to battle global climate change, Trudeau issued the following statement.

“We are deeply disappointed that the United States federal government has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement,” it read in part.

In closing, the statement said, “We are all custodians of this world, and that is why Canada will continue to work with the US at the state level, and with other US stakeholders, to address climate change and promote clean growth. We will also continue to reach out to the US federal government to discuss this matter of critical importance for all humankind, and to identify areas of shared interest for collaboration, including on emissions reductions.”

Ranking on Canadian politeness scale: I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

October 2017

In response to proposed Bombardier tariffs over an aerospace dispute between the US and Canada, Trudeau had some words for Trump.

“I highlighted to the president how we disagree vehemently with commerce’s decision to bring in countervailing and anti-dumping duties against Bombardier, that we feel this is not something that is warranted and quite frankly something that we look very negatively upon,” Canada’s leader said after a meeting with Trump.

“The attempt by Boeing to put tens of thousands of aerospace workers out of work across Canada is not something we look on positively and I certainly mentioned that this was a block to us purchasing, making any military procurements from Boeing.”

Ranking on Canadian politeness scale: Please don’t hurt us.

March 2018

Trudeau said in response to Trump’s proposal to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum that “it makes no sense” and is “absolutely unacceptable.”

Ranking on Canadian politeness scale: How dare you, sir!

May 2018

In response to the growing trade war with the US, Trudeau’s words in May already indicated he was done with playing meek (Trump disagreed, though). Trudeau himself called Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel “a turning point in the Canada-US relationship.”

"We will continue to make arguments based on logic and common sense… and hope that eventually they will prevail against an administration that doesn't always align itself around those principles,” Trudeau said.

In response to the US treating Canadian steel and aluminum as a threat to its security, Trudeau said this was “inconceivable” and "an affront to the thousands of Canadians who have fought and died alongside their American comrades in arms."

Ranking on Canadian politeness scale: Inconceivable!

June 2018

During a G7 press conference, Trudeau called it “kind of insulting” that the US imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum based on national security.

“Canadians: We’re polite, we’re reasonable—but we also will not be pushed around,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau’s comments appeared to have angered Trump, who tweeted, ”PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, ‘US Tariffs were kind of insulting’ and he ‘will not be pushed around.’ Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!”

Ranking on Canadian politeness scale: Passive aggressive.

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