General Question

ibstubro's avatar

Why had it been nearly 20 years since an American President had hosted a Canadian Prime Minister at the White House?

Asked by ibstubro (18730points) March 11th, 2016

President Barack Obama hosted a state dinner for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House on Thursday, March 10, the first in 19 years.

Are the neighbors just too close geographically to mess with state dinners, or have they been that far apart politically for 2 decades?

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7 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

Everybody’s been very busy.

Buttonstc's avatar

In a recent 60 Minutes piece, it was pointed out that Trudeau’s father was well known as a progressive liberal. The son shares much of his basic ideological outlook.

Following the father’s reign, for the past 19 years his successors were the polar opposite so that explains Obama’s reluctance.

Now why the conservative Dubya didn’t invite the PM of Canada is a bit puzzling since one assumes a compatibility of viewpoints.

But Dubya did a lot of stupid things so nothing would much surprise me about his decisions (or lack of them)

dappled_leaves's avatar

Our previous Prime Minister, Conservative Steven Harper, ruled as a kind of tyrant for ten years. He really did not play well with others.

Before him was Liberal Paul Martin, who was in office for three years, and beset by attacks from Conservative opponents for a lot of that time. I don’t remember anything about his relationship with W. He certainly met with him, though not at the White House. Martin was rather forgettable as a PM, to be honest.

Before that was Liberal Jean Chrétien (not Jean Poutine), and he did visit the White House while Clinton was in office. But Chrétien was not particularly friendly to Bush, for obvious reasons. Bush had expectations of Canadian support in his war with Iraq, and he was disappointed. My guess is that this may have created some lasting distance between our countries.

More generally, for the most part over this twenty year period, we have had conservative leadership while you have had liberal leadership, and vice versa – so things have not been as friendly as they could have been. The last visit was when Clinton and Chrétien were both in power – and both are liberals (at least, Clinton is considered relatively liberal from the US’s point of view). Chrétien was a charismatic leader who spoke his mind freely – reminiscent in some ways of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Justin’s father.

Trudeau and Obama are fairly well-matched in terms of personality and ideology. It will be interesting to see how the next US leader interacts with our PM.

marinelife's avatar

Because compared to other countries in the world, there is not that much on the Canadian-US agenda: neither problems or otherwise.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@marinelife Well, we are your single biggest trading partner, but apart from that…

ibstubro's avatar

And share the longest international border in the world, @dappled_leaves.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@ibstubro Zactly. Gotta keep the Haskell Free Library in business.

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