On being ... admirable

By Ingrid Sapona

Finding a title for today’s column was hard – not because I couldn’t think of one, but because there were too many to choose from. I’ll give you a few examples of those I vetoed in a minute, but before I do, let me explain what’s been weighing on my mind.

What’s set my mind awhirl this week is Trump’s – and his advisor’s – comments about my Prime Minister (Justin, as Trump likes to refer to him) in the aftermath of the G7 meeting. I know the story got some play in the U.S., but I also know it was swiftly overshadowed by Nobel Prize (self-)Nominee Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un.

As you might imagine, north of the border we took note of Trump’s post G7 tweet that Trudeau is “dishonest and weak”, not to mention the comments his staff made on the Sunday political talk shows. The best that can be said about Peter Navarro’s comments that Trudeau’s behaviour was “amateurish”, “rogue”, and “sophomoric” is that Navarro clearly has a bigger vocabulary than Trump.

But, Navarro’s comment about a special place in hell seemed truly over the top to us. (Actually, always a sucker for a pun, I smiled when I read one commentator’s reference to Navarro’s special place in hell comment as “especially incendiary”.) And yes, Navarro’s subsequent admission that the language he used was “inappropriate”, made the news here too. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that by our standards, that didn’t cut it as an apology. But never mind…

And yes, we also heard Larry Kudlow’s comment about Trump not wanting to appear weak to Kim. Though I’ll get to why we found that explanation odd – it did help us understand that Trump’s comments were not really for our benefit. Instead, they were apparently meant to paint a picture for Kim, who was next up in Trump’s speed dating overseas adventure. But, we can’t quite understand why Kudlow and Co. don’t understand that Kim could, in fact, see the President’s bullying of his closest allies as reason to not believe anything he hears from Trump at the negotiating table. But never mind…

Anyway – with this background, I offer up some of the other titles I considered for today’s column, along with the reason I decided against each.

On being … baffling – too obvious.
On being … insulted – too obvious.
On being … an unprecedented attack – too obvious.
On being … an abrupt shift – too obvious.
On being … bizarre – well, this is true of pretty much everything Trump says and does.

As it happens, these are all descriptions reporters and commentators here used to describe Trump’s sudden decision to end the budding bromance he and Justin had going.

While all these terms certainly reflect the astonishment we feel, they don’t really capture the genuine concern we feel with Trump at the helm of the neighbor we’ve shared the longest undefended border with. Bluster and antics aside, how would you interpret the President’s statement that Trudeau’s comment after the G7 meeting is going to cost the people of Canada a lot of money. The common interpretation of that was that Trump is intent on punishing the people of Canada. That kind of confirms our view that the national security justification for imposing tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum is a ruse.

Regardless of the intended audience for the insults and exaggerations, given what’s at stake – in terms of both trade and having an on-going working relationship between the two countries – clearly you’d expect the Canadian government to react. And it’s precisely the calm, dignified reaction of Trudeau and his cabinet that has caused me to write today’s column.

I thought it was brilliant that Trudeau, rather than dignify Trump’s bullying and personal attack, had Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland respond. And I loved that her comment was that “Canada does notbelieve that ad hominem attacks are a particularly appropriate or useful way toconduct our relations with other countries.” A couple days later Freeland, who has been Canada’s main representative in the NAFTA renegotiations, also reminded people that, “From day one, we have saidthat we expected moments of drama and that we would … keep calm and carry onthroughout those moments of drama.

And it wasn’t just Trudeau’s governing party that took the high road. Andrew Scheer, leader of the opposition party, was similarly professional. Scheer said, “Divisive rhetoric and personal attacks from theU.S. administration are clearly unhelpful.

I find it most admirable that our Prime Minister is able to eloquently articulate our values (that Canadians are polite and reasonable but that we will also not be pushed around) AND that our representatives live those values.

©2018 Ingrid Sapona


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