With Angela Merkel preparing to exit the international stage, the longest-serving leader of the Group of Seven is Canada’s Justin Trudeau. While he is positioning himself as the new elder statesman, no one sees him owning the part in the way the German chancellor did.
Joe Biden has decades of expertise, even if he’s new to the US presidency. France’s Emmanuel Macron has aggressively positioned himself as Merkel’s heir in Europe (she will step down soon after an election in September) and Italy’s Mario Draghi, with his years operating the European Central Bank, is used to getting heard wherever he goes.
In the firm of such heavyweights, the leader of the smallest G-7 economy cuts a marginal figure in spite of efforts to be the new “dean,” as he became recognized amongst the Canadian delegation at this weekend’s summit in Carbis Bay on the southern English coast.
Indeed, as leaders walked down the lengthy beach boardwalk on Friday to take their positions for the standard “family photo,” Trudeau trailed behind as Macron made a beeline for Biden. Back in 2017, Macron had gravitated toward the fresh-faced Canadian.
Those visuals inform only aspect of the story. As Brexit flared up on the sidelines of the gathering, Trudeau presented his services as mediator.
Canadian officials say the 49-year-old prime minister, in energy due to the fact 2015, genuinely believes he can assist the UK and the European Union uncover a option to their trade dispute more than Northern Ireland. No one has taken him up on the give, it appears, even as Brexit tensions boil more than on the last day of summitry.
The host, Boris Johnson, did even so tap him to lead a higher-stakes discussion on China and how to counter its expanding financial and strategic may well. A Canadian official mentioned it was in recognition of his expertise. Trudeau definitely has seasoned the wrath of Beijing.
Canada has discovered itself increasingly squeezed in between the two superpowers, which are also its biggest trading partners. Two Canadians — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — stay jailed in China more than national safety charges soon after Canadian border guards arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies Co.’s chief economic officer in 2018, below a US extradition request.
“At this meeting, Canada led the way on a common approach to addressing the challenges posed by China,” he told reporters at a news conference in Cornwall.
A former senior official from a G-7 nation remembers Trudeau at earlier summits, which includes the one in Sicily, when the clean-shaven Canadian was actually mobbed by photographers wherever he went. In Cornwall, his morning runs had been ignored.
Back in 2017, in Taormina, the official noted that Trudeau was properly liked and that one should not overlook that surviving an election cycle in the existing political era is no compact feat.
Whether Trudeau could aspire to occupy Merkel’s throne at the G-7, the official was clear: no way.