Politics

Justin Trudeau says he's been 'thrown in deep end' of global summits

Justin Trudeau says he's been "thrown into the deep end" of international summitry since his election last month as prime minister.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tries to get Trudeau to bite on TPP

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands in his position as he waits for other leaders to take their places for a family photo at the Commonwealths Heads of Government meeting, Friday Nov. 27, 2015 in Valletta, Malta. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Justin Trudeau says he's been "thrown into the deep end" of international summitry since his election last month as prime minister.

Trudeau is wrapping up a two-day stay in Malta at the Commonwealth heads-of-government meeting today before heading on to Paris and the COP21 international climate conference that formally gets underway Monday.

In just 40 days since his Liberals won a majority government on Oct. 19, Trudeau has been to a G20 summit in Turkey, an Asia-Pacific leaders' summit in the Philippines, visited the Queen at Buckingham Palace and now adds Malta and Paris to his resume.

Trudeau sat down this morning with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the Commonwealth meeting, where he spoke of a quickly growing friendship fostered by repeated meetings at various summits.

"As everyone knows I was thrown into the deep end of international summits just shortly after being elected," said Trudeau, 43.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as they wait for a group photo of leaders to be taken at the Commonwealths Heads of Government meeting, Friday Nov. 27, 2015 in Valletta, Malta. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

"Malcolm, you've been extremely helpful in giving me little nudges every now and then as I navigate the global scene."

Turnbull interjected that Trudeau hasn't needed any help, calling him "very modest."

"No, no, no," Trudeau continued. "It's nice to have a friendly face and that happened immediately after we first met. I knew that I could always turn to you in a crowded room and get 'l'heure juste' — have a little insight on what was going to happen next."

TPP talks

The twists and turns of that summitry navigation were evident in their brief encounter with the news cameras over breakfast.

Turnbull told Trudeau he hopes Canada's new government will ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a politically sensitive file for the Liberals, who haven't yet fully committed to the massive trade pact negotiated by the previous Conservative government.

"We're both part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — or, we have signed and we are hoping that your new government will ratify," said Turnbull as the cameras rolled on their breakfast meeting.

"I think that free trade and free markets are the best way to drive jobs, opportunities and investment in an increasingly dynamic global economy."

Trudeau has already faced such public lobbying from U.S. President Barack Obama, who used a meeting with the prime minister at the Asia-Pacific summit in Manila to publicly state that "we are both soon to be signatories of the TPP agreement."

Trudeau didn't rise to Turnbull's bait, making a brief reference to "lots of discussions on trade" and global security before stressing his own key area of interest.

Canada under Stephen Harper and Australia under former prime minister Tony Abbott were both criticized for being climate change policy laggards but Trudeau suggested the two countries have changed their tune.

He told Turnbull that "both of our countries — both energy exporters and strong on natural resources — are going to be showing strong leadership on the world stage in a way that demonstrates that you can't separate what's good for the economy from what's good for the environment anymore. We have to do them both together."

Trudeau later announced Canada is providing $15.3 million over the next four years to help young Africans develop "entrepreneurial" and technology skills.

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