Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to be on a mission to change the heart (if there is one) of Donald Trump. In two Olympic gold medal trolling moves, Trudeau let Trump and the world know exactly how he feels about Trump’s Muslim ban and his draconian budget — all without mentioning Trump’s name.
Wednesday night, Trudeau invited Ivanka Trump to a play. It was a play about how, with no questions asked, people in a small Newfoundland town took in stranded travelers from around the world who were grounded during the 9/11 attacks. It was clearly a play about the friendship between the United States and Canada, but it was also clearly a metaphor about the need to be open to refugees. Whether Ivanka will take that message home to her father remains to be seen.
The move didn’t go unnoticed:
Justin Trudeau took Ivanka to "Come From Away"–a play about town welcoming foreigners–hours after Muslim ban struck. Troll level: MASTER
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) March 16, 2017
Oh, but Trudeau’s next move might not have been as flashy, but he took the trolling level up five more notches, and again, never mentioned Trump’s name. It didn’t take a psychic to know that Trump’s budget plan would be disastrous for everyone who isn’t a billionaire, a defense contractor or a major corporation, so in anticipation, Trudeau tweeted this:
Canada’s seniors deserve a secure retirement. That’s why we restored the eligibility for Old Age Security back to 65 https://t.co/lgyckFTKEl
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 15, 2017
The link in the tweet is pretty much the antithesis of Trump’s budget, and in case you question whether it’s actually trolling, the link is from a year ago and it’s all about supporting seniors and veterans and about health care for all. It also includes more money for the arts and for more fairness in the court system. In other words, it’s pretty much the polar opposite of the budget Trump proposed.
At one time, not all that long ago, Americans cared about the well being of others, and especially about fellow Americans. Trudeau is trying to prove that those days aren’t gone, even with the election of Donald Trump.
Trudeau has long proven himself the master of social media, a format Trump understands. In fact, Trump might be taking a few lessons on using social media as a distraction from the Canadian PM.
Here’s the foremost of Trudeau’s lessons so far: If you can control the viral space, traditional politics don’t matter. Virality provides one of the greatest political covers ever. While Trudeau was being photographed with the pandas, Canada quietly approved a sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that made it the second-biggest arms dealer in the Middle East. During Elbowgate, an assisted suicide law was passed that should have been hugely controversial. Instead of discussing the medicalization of death, Canada’s public media were obsessed with how forcefully the prime minister had brushed aside one of his colleagues and whether he apologized too much.
The results, though, couldn’t be more different:
The shirtless episodes seem silly; that’s just what Trudeau wants. His achievements, which have received nowhere near the attention of his constant photo opportunities, are real, and they’re substantial. In the first six months, he enacted massive child-care grants for the poor; reinstated the long-form census, which the previous government had canceled; and brought in 25,000 Syrian refugees.
Trudeau knows what he’s doing. Getting a sit down with Trump can be a little arduous, especially just a month after their last one, but Trump and Trudeau can easily communicate on Twitter, even if it’s in code and even if it’s through trolling. Trump may not listen to calls for compassion, but he does pay attention to Twitter.
Featured image via Pool/Getty Images.