The world is in love with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
They love his hair. They love his socks. They love his young, picture-perfect family.
They love the fact he’s not U.S. President Donald Trump.
The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof has named him the leader of the free world. Rolling Stone put Trudeau on the cover with a caption, “Why Can’t He Be Our President?”
(For the record, only American citizens can run for president.)
Nearly two years into his political mandate, Trudeau still draws massive crowds — both at home and abroad.
Call it Trudeau-mania 2.0. Call it an obsession. Call it whatever you want, the global fawning has put Canada at the heart of international politics.
A glance at international headlines would suggest only German Chancellor Angela Merkel and perhaps now French President Emmanuel Macron (who has been trying to brand himself as the French version of Trudeau) have earned equivalent global respect.
Some would argue the world’s obsession with Trudeau has been inflated thanks to the ongoing chaos in Washington.
He’s the anti-Trump, a young feminist who loves the Tragically Hip, will gladly march in a Pride parade and constantly espouses the benefits of multiculturalism.
Dairy and softwood lumber aside, Trudeau and his advisers have, for the most part, managed to avoid Trump’s wrath.
The American president has said repeatedly he “loves Canada.”
U.S. officials have withstood a barrage of visits from Canadian ministers, premiers and officials since Trump’s election.
Not one of those visits has been deemed a disaster — a result, it’s fair to say, that can’t be echoed by other countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and Britain, to name a few.
Ottawa has so far been able to contain the American elephant. For how long remains to be seen.
In the current minefield that is international diplomacy, Trudeau and his team will need to rely on every tool at their disposal in the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The world has admired Canada before. It’s a respect entrenched in global history.
After all, we were key allies on the beaches and trenches during the First and Second World Wars. Lester B. Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize for de-escalating the dicey Suez Crisis. It was a Canadian diplomat who drafted the United Nations’ Human Rights Declaration.
Canada helped American diplomats escape the Iranian hostage crisis and sent peacekeepers on missions to countries such as Rwanda, Kosovo and Sierra Leone. It was Canadian soldiers who suffered the highest casualties in Afghanistan.
Canadians invented insulin and the artificial pace maker and discovered a vaccine treatment for Ebola.
History has remembered great leaders not for their looks, but for their actions.
Amidst rising global uncertainty and political instability, the world has decided to lean on Trudeau for direction.
It’s a huge responsibility to bear.
Here at home, critics have said Trudeau is a man of many ideas who struggles with turning them into practical and useful policies.
How that plays out on the global stage remains to be seen.