US & Canada

Trump and Trudeau: Where leaders find common ground

US President-elect Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The two world leaders may have more in common than meets the eye

At first glance, few people have less in common than Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President-elect Donald Trump.

Mr Trudeau is a favourite of global progressives, who see him as a bastion against rising tide of anti-immigrant and protectionist sentiment and who campaigned on appealing to people's "better angels".

Mr Trump won the US election riding that anti-trade and anti-globalisation wave, and as a political outsider who is free with his insults.

The relationship between the North American neighbours is a vital one and depends in part on the Republican and Liberal leaders finding common ground, despite differences in personality and policy.

Here are five areas where Mr Trudeau and Mr Trump are somewhat simpatico.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Justin Trudeau surprised opponents with his 2015 win.

1. They pulled off unexpected election victories after being discounted by rivals and pundits.

Pollsters in both countries failed to predict Mr Trudeau and Mr Trump's upsets, and both party leaders were seen as celebrity lightweights by rivals.

It is a similarity not lost on Mr Trudeau.

In a 16 December interview with a Montreal radio show host, the prime minister revealed he touched on that "common ground" during his congratulatory phone call to Mr Trump following the US election.

"He and I had a conversation about being knocked around by the media because, present company excluded, that's the experience that I'd had for years of people just slamming me and saying 'he'd never become prime minister,'" Mr Trudeau said.

Image copyright Getty Images

2. They embrace politics in the social media age.

The prime minister and the president-elect both use social media for their political ends.

Mr Trudeau and his team know a charming photo opportunity of the photogenic prime minister, from shirtless selfies to yoga poses, can go viral and bolster his popularity at home and abroad.

He has leveraged social media as a tool to sell his brand of progressive cool to the world.

While Mr Trudeau has a healthy Twitter following for a world leader, with nearly 2.4m followers (and over 830,000 on Instagram), his influence on the platform is dwarfed by Mr Trump's 19.7m followers.

A prolific tweeter, Mr Trump wields his influential account to attack opponents, drive the news, and pressure US manufacturers to bend to his agenda.

He has, however, promised to be more restrained in his Twitter antics after being sworn-in 20 January.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Justin Trudeau says he avoids negative politics

3. They promised to change the way politics is done.

Mr Trump vowed during the campaign he would "drain the swamp", a catch-all promise for his supporters who see of Washington as a cesspool of lobbyists, corruption, and waste.

During the 2015 Canadian election, Mr Trudeau said his predecessor, former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, "turned Ottawa into a partisan swamp" during his near decade in power.

Mr Trudeau promised to put an end to partisanship and patronage in Ottawa, to usher in a more transparent and receptive government, and to make question period respectful again.

The two have faced critics who say those promises were quick to fall by the wayside.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Donald Trump said he would 'Make America great Again'

4. They harkened to the past in their pitch to voters.

The two politicians pressed some very powerful nostalgia buttons as they campaigned to lead their countries.

Mr Trump's inescapable campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again", borrowed from former US president Ronald Reagan's 1980 race, looked back to a time when voters felt there was more prosperity and opportunity in the United States and when their nation garnered respect on the world stage.

Mr Trudeau was more subtle, though his campaign was woven through with a thread of nostalgia, from a promise to recommit troops to overseas peacekeeping efforts to a foreign policy return to when Canadians thought the world saw the country as its good neighbour.

After winning the election, Mr Trudeau and his MPs made "Canada is back" one of their favourite catchphrases.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pierre Elliott Trudeau, right, Justin Trudeau's father, with former US President Ronald Reagan

5. They followed in their fathers' footsteps.

Fred Trump, the first New York real estate magnate in the Trump family, started a million dollar residential real estate business in Brooklyn and Queens.

The Donald learned the business from his father, switching from building low-income housing in New York City's outer-boroughs to luxury towers in downtown Manhattan.

Justin Trudeau grew up surrounded by politics and was once toasted by former US President Richard Nixon, who predicted the young boy would one day become prime minister like his father Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Trudeau senior served as in that role from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984, becoming one of Canada's most recognisable leaders.

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