White House offers congratulations to Trudeau

Obama spokesman signals White House priorities for Canada-U.S. relations

WASHINGTON – A flood of congratulations poured in from world leaders Tuesday following Justin Trudeau’s election win, including detailed signals from Washington about its priorities for Canada’s most important bilateral relationship.

A spokesman for President Barack Obama described areas where the U.S. hopes Canada continues the status quo: the fight against Islamist rebels in Iraq, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

He also revealed hope for improvement in one area: climate change.

Josh Earnest brushed off a suggestion that relations might suddenly change because the departing leader had repeatedly lectured the U.S. for stalling the Keystone XL pipeline.

“It would be short-sighted to reduce the relationship between our two countries to just one issue,” Earnest said, going through that list of other issues.

“The fact is there are a whole range of issues where the United States and Canada worked effectively together to advance the interests of our two countries.”

He said the president would be calling the next prime minister Tuesday afternoon. But he added that Obama would also be calling the outgoing prime minister — whom he thanked for his past work.

“The United States is fortunate to have such a strong and close partnership with a country like Canada that does have this global influence,” Earnest said.

“We certainly are appreciative of Prime Minister Harper’s efforts to strengthen that relationship. We look forward to building on that kind of progress when Mr. Trudeau takes over the Prime Minister’s Office.”

He said he hoped the next government would continue fighting ISIL, and supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership — both areas where Trudeau has been less clear than Harper. But on climate change and the upcoming Paris talks, he added: “We believe it’s possible there’s more that Canada can do in this regard.”

Congratulations for Trudeau rolled in from around the world.

The leaders of Mexico, India and Italy sent laudatory messages to Trudeau, as did a number of left-leaning American critics of the now-defeated Conservative government.

Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto called the future prime minister and tweeted congratulations in Spanish: “Canada and Mexico have the opportunity to start a new chapter in their relationship.” As noted by the Washington Post, this is the first time since 2000 that the continent is led by three left-of-centre governments.

Italy’s Matteo Renzi sent a Twitter message to Trudeau: “Looking forward to seeing you at G20; will work together to make the bonds between Canada and Italy ever stronger. Good luck.”

Narendra Modi said: “I have fond memories of my visit to Canada in April 2015 and my meeting with you,” he tweeted at Trudeau. “It was also great meeting your daughter, whom you had woken up early that day. Best wishes.”

The Chinese government expressed hope of building on existing relations: “Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 45 years ago, bilateral relations have made substantial progress thanks to the concerted efforts of both sides,” said a foreign ministry spokeswoman.

In the U.S., one persistent critic of Conservative climate-change policies expressed delight about a potential change in Canadian policy in time for next month’s climate talks.

“I’m hopeful tonight’s election will put Canada back in a leadership position,” said former vice-president and presidential candidate Al Gore. “Congratulations.”

World media ran stories speculating on what a Trudeau win might mean. Most pieces invariably mentioned the father-son dynamic, in Canada’s first multi-generational prime ministerial dynasty.

The Associated Press informed readers worldwide about the Richard Nixon prophecy. At a state dinner in 1972, when Trudeau was a few months old, the then-president toasted the baby’s arrival and joked that he’d become prime minister someday.

The BBC listed seven policies supported by Trudeau, including: possibly ending Canada’s air attacks in Iraq, closer relations with Obama, more refugees from Syria, fighting climate change, better relations with Iran, legalizing marijuana, and an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Time magazine’s website mentioned several of those things, as well as Trudeau’s promise to reform the voting system.

The Guardian explained that while he’s a prime minister’s son, Trudeau took a “circuitous” path to power — fighting for his nomination in the riding of Papineau and then climbing back from third place in national polls.