A political odd couple, President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau resolutely played up their similarities at their first meeting Monday, even as obvious differences lurked behind their public smiles.
But it was hard to escape their contrasting worldviews.
Speaking to reporters, Trump defended his restrictive refugee and immigration orders, saying that “we cannot let the wrong people in.” Trudeau, on the other hand, said Canada continues to “pursue our policies of openness.”
Trudeau later acknowledged that there are times when the two countries differ. But he said, “The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they chose to govern themselves.”
After Trump’s recent travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries, Canada offered temporary residence to any immigrants stranded in Canada. The decision was announced by Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s immigration minister. “Let me assure those who may be stranded in Canada that I will use my authority as minister to provide them with temporary residency if they need it,” said Hussen, who was born in Somalia and came to Canada as a teenage refugee.
Despite the chaos and uncertainty sparked by Trump’s travel ban, the Canadian government, led by Justin Trudeau, refrained from directly criticizing the order. Trudeau instead posted a series of tweets highlighting the stark difference between the position espoused by the Canadian and American governments. “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” Trudeau tweeted.