Trudeau, Macron a meeting of like minds, former ambassador says

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Paris is a serious visit with a “steadfast ally,” the former Canadian ambassador to France Lawrence Cannon says.

Lawrence Cannon says the leaders agree on many issues including the importance of global trade

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Paris for a two-day visit to France, during which he will meet with President Emmanuel Macron and address the National Assembly. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's visit to Paris is a serious visit with a "steadfast ally," the former Canadian ambassador to France Lawrence Cannon says.

Much of the prime minister's two-day visit to France is expected to focus on trade as Canada looks to ease its reliance on the U.S. market.

Cannon says he doesn't expect to see Trudeau repeat the errors that marred his recent trip to India.

"We won't see the prime minister with a beret and a baguette under his arm," Cannon told Radio-Canada in an interview.

Cannon, Stephen Harper's former foreign affairs minister, served as Canada's top diplomat in Paris for five years until last fall.

Trudeau arrived in Paris early Monday morning after a seven-hour pitstop in Ottawa to deal with the Trans Mountain pipeline crisis.

This is Trudeau's first official visit to France and he will sit down with President Emmanuel Macron.

"Prime Minister Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron get along very well," Cannon told CBC News. "Both of them are young politicians. They basically view the world particularly through the same kind of glasses."

Trudeau supported France ordering military intervention in Syria alongside the United States and Britain. It was Macron's first big military action since taking office a year ago.

Former Canadian ambassador to France Lawrence Cannon says Trudeau and Macron have similar approaches to many topics and 'basically view the world particularly through the same kind of glasses.' (Francois Mori/Associated Press/Canadian Press)

Recent events in Syria are expected to come up in discussions between the two leaders, but Cannon doesn't think Macron will ask for any assistance.

Macron is expected to thank Trudeau for Canada's upcoming contribution in Mali, which France had been requesting for some time. 

It was announced in March that Canada would send six helicopters and up to 250 aircrew and troops to assist with the UN peacekeeping mission this summer. Canada's year-long commitment will involve two CH-147 Chinook helicopters for medical evacuations and logistical support and four CH-146 Griffon helicopters for armed escorts.

French troops are battling a deadly Islamist insurgency in Mali, but Canadian Forces will only provide transportation assistance for UN peacekeepers in the country. 

Trade as economic tool

On the topic of trade, Cannon says Trudeau and Macron both see global trade as a vital economic tool that promotes jobs, gender equality, human rights and can help address climate change.

"We have a wonderful opportunity here in diversifying our economy and given, of course, what's taking place in NAFTA (re-negotiations) it gives us a better chance," Cannon said.

Macron is not expected to ask Trudeau for Canadian military support in the ongoing war in Syria. (Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)

Trudeau will be the first Canadian head of government to deliver a speech to the French National Assembly on Tuesday. Cannon says that by extending that honour, Macron is signalling a desire to build even stronger relations.

Cannon suggested some of themes that Trudeau might touch on in that speech.

"He certainly might want to make comment on Europe being a steadfast ally, and the necessity for Europe to be able to still stand as tall as it has over the course of the last years. Europe is somewhat pressured these days. You've got the rise of populism. That's still there, so there are a number of elements I think the prime minister can speak to," Cannon said.

The prime minister will also meet Michaëlle Jean, the former governor general of Canada who is now head of the International Organization of La Francophonie. Additionally, he'll meet with the head of French aerospace giant Airbus, which has partnered with Canadian counterpart Bombardier on the latter's C Series passenger planes.

With files from The Canadian Press