Trudeau's first month as PM includes four major international meetings
by Michelle Zilio (feat. Colin Robertson)
November 8, 2015
As Justin Trudeau heads into his first full week as prime minister, he is also preparing for the busiest month on the international leaders’ agenda.
Despite his busy domestic schedule guiding a new government, Trudeau confirmed last week he will attend four major international summits over the next month.
That means some of Trudeau’s initial tests as prime minister will take place on the global stage.
Speaking to CTV’s Question Period, former Canadian diplomat and Vice-President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute Colin Robertson had some advice for Trudeau as he heads into the series of summits.
“In global affairs, it’s not the quick step, it’s the long term. So it’s not the first 100 days, it’s going to be the first 1,000 days,” said Roberson. “My advice to the prime minister at these big four events that are coming up would be to look, to listen and to learn.”
Here’s a breakdown of Trudeau’s upcoming international agenda.
1. G20 Leaders Summit
Trudeau will make his global debut as prime minister in Antalya, Turkey for the annual G20 meeting on Nov. 15 and 16, where the conflict in Syria and the fight against ISIS are expected to be on the agenda.
The Liberal government says it will pull Canada out of the combat portion of the U.S.-led mission against ISIS, but it’s not clear exactly when that will happen.
Speaking to CTV’s Question Period, former Liberal foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy said Trudeau should be prepared to present some substantial ideas in Turkey.
“I would hope that he might go the G20 with some real initiatives around the (Syrian) refugee issue, around working in Syria,” said Axworthy. “I think there’s lots of good news that can be put forward in terms of upgrading and mobilizing on the humanitarian front (in the fight against ISIS).”
2. APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting
Trudeau will then head to Manila, Philippines for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic leaders’ meeting, scheduled for Nov. 18 and 19.
All 21 APEC members will be there, including the dozen who recently signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which Canada is part of. Trudeau has said his Liberals are “pro trade,” but are committed to debating the massive trade agreement in Parliament.
3. Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
Trudeau will also attend the Commonwealth leaders’ gathering, to be held in Malta on Nov. 27 to 29. This meeting of the heads of government from the 53 Commonwealth nations is held once every two years.
4. United Nations Climate Change Conference
Trudeau will wrap up his busy month at the highly anticipated UN climate change summit in Paris, where world leaders will try to negotiate a global climate change agreement.
Trudeau has promised a new era of accountability and action on climate change. He also invited the premiers and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May to join him in Paris, and committed to hold a first ministers' meeting to work on a Canadian framework to deal with climate change within 90 days of the UN gathering.
Canada's new environment minister, Catherine McKenna, is attending climate change pre-talks in Paris to start laying the groundwork for the Liberals' strategy on climate change.
"Canada agrees the science is indisputable, and we recognize the need for urgent/greater action that is grounded in robust science," McKenna tweeted on Sunday.
The summit is scheduled to take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. And smack dab in the middle of that meeting, Canada’s Parliament will resume on Dec. 3.
Pushing the foreign agenda at home first
Trudeau got a kick-start on the foreign policy front last week, visiting the newly renamed Global Affairs Canada -- formerly known as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development – in Ottawa, where he rallied hundreds of public servants.
“I’m truly touched by the enthusiasm, by the support, because we’re going to have an awful lot of really hard work to do in the coming months, in the coming years, and we’re going to need every single one of you to give us — as you always do — your absolute best,” Trudeau said to the crowd.
His surprise visit to the Global Affairs Canada headquarters came one day after he wrote a letter to Canadian ambassadors and high commissioners, saying he and his Liberal cabinet will rely on their judgment and insight to advance Canada's foreign policy goals.
Andrew Cooper, a political science professor at the University of Ottawa, says that Trudeau's change in approach has already been on display.
"It radiates out, and you see the sense of openness and … the public diplomacy – the sense of building connections," Cooper said.