Prime Minister Justin Trudeau found himself answering for behaviour unbecoming a G7 leader at the close of NATO meetings in London this week and the familiar explanation: He experienced it differently.
During his closing remarks and press conference Wednesday, Trudeau found himself answering for footage of himself, French President Emmanuel Macron, UK PM Boris Johnson and Dutch PM Mark Rutte sharing a laugh at a NATO wine and cheese, purportedly at Trump’s expense.
Trudeau said he told a story to the group at the Buckingham Palace function about getting caught up in the US president’s impromptu and extended engagement with mainstream media.
“Last night I made a reference to the fact there was unscheduled press conference before my meeting with president, and I was happy to take part of it, but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau told reporters the morning after many had reported the video as mockery of Trump.
In the video, a jovial Johnson can be heard saying, “So that’s why you were late?” as he turns toward Macron.
“And when you told Macron, ‘jaws drop’ what were you talking about?” asked another reporter of Trudeau and his story that was caught on mic.
“We were all surprised and pleased to learn the next G7 would be at Camp David,” said Trudeau. “Every different leader has teams who every now and then have their jaws drop at unscheduled surprises, like that video itself for example.”
Notable surprises have been the hallmark of this NATO summit. Before Trudeau’s presser with Trump on Tuesday, Macron was in the POTUS’ sights where Trump asked the French president if he wanted his “nice ISIS fighters” back that the US has “under lock and key” in Syria.
Next up was Trudeau, where Trump cornered the Canadian PM on military spending in the context of NATO commitments.
During the 30 minute Q&A with media in attendance, Trump described Canada’s NATO readiness as an expression of annual two-percent GDP military spending as “slightly delinquent”.
It’s a figure NATO adopted in 2014, before Trump or Trudeau ever occupied high office in their respective countries, but one Trump uses as cudgel against alliance members who fall short.
The moment becomes awkward as Trump presses Trudeau, turns to an attaché for figures, and also made headline news.
And this morning, during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump described Trudeau as “two-faced” when asked about the Canadian PM.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t or wouldn’t say if he apologized to Trump, or even whether he learned anything about speaking out of school at such events.
However, Trudeau acknowledged that Trump’s military ask from NATO alliance members is legitimate.
“I think we saw from last year in NATO, that this is a concern that the States legitimately has that other countries need to step up,” said Trudeau, who continued to play defence on whether his actions had hurt relations with the Trump administration.
“I think people know the relationship between Canada and US is deep, and goes well beyond a relationship between prime minister and a president.”
The prime minister began his press conference lauding NATO and reminisced about the pride he felt when his late-father and PM Pierre Trudeau took him on an official visit of Canadian troops stationed in Europe during the height of the Cold War.
Trudeau also announced that Canada would be contributing six fighter jets and a frigate to NATO’s 430 Readiness Force; as the alliance describes it, 30 battalions; 30 air squadrons; and 30 naval combat vessels ready to use within 30 days.