In a year-end interview with CBC News, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says although he has a better “understanding” of President Donald Trump, he’s not going to “hang out” with him.
When asked, “But you’re not going to hang out with him?” Trudeau responded, “Canadians expect me to be professional around this and I will continue to do so.”
Trudeau was asked repeatedly about how he really feels about the U.S. president and reminded that he has been critical of Trump in the past, including calling him “unpredictable.” The prime minister appeared to avoid a straight answer. (RELATED: Trudeau Worries About ‘Impacts’ Of Male Construction Workers On ‘GenderLens’)
“I think certainly we have a level of understanding of each other that has grown through having worked together, through having got to a resolution on this big file of modernizing NAFTA,” he said. “So yes, there’s a little more understanding of what our personalities are and how we can work together.”
Trudeau has been guarded in his comments about the president, though Trump has not always been so circumspect. In the aftermath of the G7 conference that Trudeau hosted in Quebec last summer, Trump called Trudeau “dishonest” and “weak” in a tweet. Trump has also repeatedly told Canada to contribute more to NATO by increasing its defense spending to two percent of its GDP. An unnamed Trump official reportedly referred to Trudeau as “that little punk kid running Canada.”
On Trump’s active use of social media to issue policy statements or criticize opponents, Trudeau, who often surprises his own staff with comments on Twitter, told CBC he’s become used to his way of doing business.
“Well, I think as Canadians have seen, we’ve continued to stay constructive in our relationship with the United States. It means that we certainly don’t react or overreact when we get a surprise in a tweet or a statement,” he told CBC. “We continue to say, look, the relationship is bigger than that between any two individuals at the heads of the country, and we’re going to continue to focus on that relationship, and that’s between Canadians and Americans. That approach has stood us in good stead.” (RELATED: Trudeau Hints At Total Handgun Ban For Canada)
When asked if focusing on countries, not people, makes his “job more challenging,” Trudeau said it “is a challenging job at any time, and there’s always personalities, and challenges on the global stage one has to deal with. I’ve gotten used to having to adjust to surprises on the world stage, not just from the United States.”