“Is Canada’s prime minister the free world’s best hope?”
That’s the question Rolling Stone ponders in a tweet promoting its latest issue, featuring Canadian PM Justin Trudeau on the cover of the venerable pop culture magazine, and asks “Why can’t he be our president?”
In fact, the Rolling Stone cover story begins by outlining some of the key contrasts between Trudeau and America’s 45th president.
“He speaks in a modulated, indoor voice,” notes Rolling Stone of Trudeau. “His dark hair is a colour found in nature. At home, there is a glamorous wife and three photogenic children, still not old enough to warm his seat at next week’s G-20 summit or be involved in an espionage scandal.”
Bashing his American counterpart, however, is something Trudeau refuses to do during the interview, swatting away “all Trump-baiting questions with a look that says ‘Not today, laddie.'”
However, Trudeau does issue a “Canadian burn” when describing the way Canadians are viewed throughout the world. “A Canadian on the ground in different parts of the world, whether they’re a diplomat, an aid worker or a soldier, has an extraordinary, powerful impact,” Trudeau explains. “I mean, the image of Canada, the way people look at you as ‘Oh, you’re Canadian’ — subtext ‘not American’ — ‘but you’re here to help, you’re not here for oil, you’re not here to tell us how to run our country.'”
As for his relationship with President Trump (who has described Trudeau as his “new-found friend”), the PM is pragmatic. “Obviously, I disagree [with Trump] on a whole bunch, but Canadians expect me to accomplish two things at the same time, which is emphasize where we disagree and stand up firmly for Canadian interests,” Trudeau tells Rolling Stone. “But we also have a constructive working relationship, and me going out of my way to insult the guy or overreact or jump at everything he says [that] we might disagree with is not having a constructive relationship.”
Trudeau also opens up about his famous father, admitting two-time prime minister Pierre Trudeau could be “sometimes emotionally distant,” and recalls the pain he watched his father suffer when younger brother Michel died in an avalanche while skiing in B.C. at age 23.
“I watched it kill my dad,” Trudeau says of how his brother’s death affected his father, who was then suffering from prostate cancer. “He just lost it. He couldn’t understand why God had taken his son away from him like that.”
The article ends with more contrasts between Trudeau’s Canada and Trump’s America. “His land races toward inclusion, while our nation builds walls and lusts for an era of vanilla homogeneity that ain’t coming back,” notes Rolling Stone writer Stephen Rodrick. “At this moment, Justin Trudeau’s Canada looks like a beautiful place to ride out an American storm.”
That appears to be a view shared by many, judging by some of the Twitter responses to the Rolling Stone profile.