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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Canadian leader Trudeau bringing star power to White House

President Barack Obama listens as Canadas Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks Nov. 19 during a bilateral meeting in Manila, Philippines. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)
Rob Gillies

TORONTO – Justin Trudeau, the young prime minister of Canada with movie-star looks, is bringing his star power to the White House.

The tall, dark-haired, 44-year-old scion of one of Canada’s most famous politicians was sworn into office in November. Within weeks, President Barack Obama granted Trudeau one of the highest honors the U.S. reserves for allies: a pomp-filled visit with time in private talks and in front of cameras with Obama.

Trudeau, accompanied by his wife, Sophie Gregoire, will be feted Thursday at a state dinner, the first for Canada since April 1997.

“Obama was delighted that Trudeau got elected,” said Nelson Wiseman, a University of Toronto political science professor, offering perspective on Trudeau’s speedy invitation. “They’re both liberals. They both like to talk the same kind of language.”

Stephen Harper, Trudeau’s predecessor, is a conservative who held office for nearly a decade. His relations with Obama were strained over various issues, most notably the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Trudeau’s election has ushered in a new era in Canada’s politics he and others hope will help strengthen relations with the U.S.

“I think we’ve seen the incredible excitement that Justin generated during his campaign in Canada,” Obama said after their first meeting at a summit in the Philippines last fall. “We’re confident that he’s going to be able to provide a great boost of energy and reform to the Canadian political landscape. And we’re looking forward very much to working with him.”

Nik Nanos, a Canadian pollster, said more Americans have become interested in Canadian politics because of Trudeau.

“Not all Canadian prime ministers have star power. Justin Trudeau has star power,” Nanos said.