YELLOWKNIFE—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent Friday visiting with a ‘Snow King’ and he also tried to head off the prospect of a frosty meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump next week by suggesting he will handle any disagreements respectfully.
At a Yellowknife town hall, Trudeau walked a communications tightrope ahead of his first face-to-face meeting with Trump, set for Monday in Washington.
Trudeau has repeatedly refused to comment on the new president’s policies, such as his executive order banning immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries.
That did not change during his first trip to the territories as prime minister, which also included a visit to a bed of ice Friday where he met with Anthony Foliot — more commonly known as the ‘Snow King’ — and explore his snow castles.
Later Trudeau said there are many areas where he sees eye-to-eye with Trump, including jobs for the middle class and economic growth.
Canada will stay true to its values of openness and respect, he added, noting this is the path of success for an increasingly polarized world.
“I am counting on having a good working, constructive relationship with the president,” Trudeau said.
Canadians largely understand diversity is a source of strength, Trudeau said, noting this did not happen by accident and it won’t continue without effort.
The country has faced dark chapters rife with discrimination, racism and intolerance including its residential school legacy and the turning away of Jewish refugees before the Second World War, he said.
There are recent examples of intolerance and racism and a “troubling spike” in recent hate crimes, Trudeau added.
The prime minister has now completed a whirlwind trip to the Arctic that featured a number of outdoor photo-opportunities.
Trudeau also met with indigenous children from the Aboriginal Head Start Program and paid a visit to the headquarters of Joint Task Force North in Yellowknife.
Before the sun was up, Trudeau was greeted by an honour guard including two Rangers who are husband and wife —Master Cpl. Priscilla Canadien and Sgt. Joseph Canadien.
The Canadiens drove up to Yellowknife on Thursday from Fort Providence, which is about a four-hour trek.
“He is the prime minister of Canada,” she said. “His dad was also prime minister ? it is an honour to meet him.”
Trudeau also spoke with a number of soldiers during a morning coffee event and was presented with a commander coin. He was asked to sign a picture of featuring a soldier on a snowmobile from the Royal Canadian regiment.
The image was snapped in 2016 in Resolute Bay during Operation Nunalivut, a sovereignty operation conducted annually in Canada’s North.
“To all my friends on Team North, thank you for your service,” Trudeau wrote.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, Health Minister Jane Philpott and Liberal MP Michael McLeod were also present at events throughout the day.