Selfies not substance

Dear PM,

Stop with the photo ops so that you (and Canadians) can start to be taken seriously.


1

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has left his second G20 Summit, and what have we learned?

Well, for one, that Trudeau is still a hit with foreign media and that his dance moves when it comes to a mixed tai-chi-yoga performance aren’t bad.

What have we not learned?

First, whether the PM was questioned by Turkey over Canada’s training support for Kurdish troops fighting ISIS in Syria. (There are reports that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan harshly criticized U.S. President Barack Obama over American support for Kurdish forces. When asked by a reporter, Trudeau did not answer.)

Second, why Trudeau wasn’t involved in a meeting about Ukraine — where Canadian troops are currently training the Ukrainian military. The meeting was attended by Obama, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande.

Canada has always had to jockey for position on the world stage. Ours is not the biggest economy, nor the largest military force. But we have demonstrated time and again the substantial contributions we can make.

Our concern is that Trudeau’s much-cultivated Mr. Nice Guy and Prime Minister Selfie image is playing better with celebrity-hungry media abroad than with foreign leaders seeking a substantive partner.

Trudeau went to China espousing the right message: One of economic engagement, rather than isolationism. He addressed the issue of human rights while there, and raised the cases of three Canadians being detained abroad.

But is he bringing the needed gravitas? We’re not seeing it.

There are reasons Trudeau might not be included at the Ukraine meeting. There are explanations for why Turkey may not have taken issue directly with him on our training of Kurdish forces.

But the reason that lingers in a skeptic’s mind might be the worst of all: Relevance.

At a time of such international upheaval, are we at the table when we need to be?

Let’s not forget that, back in January, Trudeau’s defence minister wasn’t invited to a summit of nations fighting to take down ISIS.

Trudeau’s only formal bilateral meeting at the G20 in Hangzhou, China was with the president of Chad.

The prime minister insists he spoke informally to almost every leader during the brief two days of talks.

But were they listening when he spoke?

Reference

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