Saturday, December 9, 2017

We've come a long way from Little Potato: Is the international media's treatment of Justin Trudeau changing?

We've come a long way from Little Potato: Is the international media's treatment of Justin Trudeau changing?

A glamorous photo in Vogue, an unctuous profile in Rolling Stone, a web video for BuzzFeed; but now the winds they are a-changin'

Image result for Little Potato: Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has enjoyed two years of wall-to-wall positive coverage from the international media, but there are signs the tide may be turning.
After Trudeau was “ambushed” by a non-committal Chinese delegation and his official photographer barred from a meeting Monday, the state-owned English-language newspaper Global Times declared that China is “not in a rush to develop its relations with Canada.”
While most of the editorial’s ire was reserved for the “superiority and narcissism” of the Canadian media, the misunderstanding and subsequent media assault echoes a similar pattern at the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations — one not at all in line with the kind of fawning reception that has greeted Trudeau on previous trips abroad.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a pair of socks he received as a gift from Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest during Live with Kelly and Ryan in Niagara Falls, Ontario on Monday, June 5, 2017. Aaron Lynett / CP
In September, the Chewbacca-themed socks he wore at a business conference inspired Vanity Fair to publish a tongue-in-cheek “in-depth reading of Justin Trudeau’s Chewbacca socks.” But in a slightly more serious take, the New York Times examined Trudeau’s “sock-based diplomacy.”
The sock-centric euphorias are the most consistent feature of Trudeau coverage in international media, but he’s attracted praise for his feminism, environmentalism and, of course, his looks. After his Liberals won a majority in the 2015 election, amid a rush of international coverage, an Australian news site greeted Canada’s “super hot new leader.”
Even in China, Trudeau had been accustomed to friendly media attention. Last year, he featured on the front page of the China Daily newspaper, shook hands with screaming fans and learned that his (apparently affectionate) nickname in the country is “Little Potato.”
Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie in a photo from the January issue of Vogue magazine.
The global acclaim has not been an accident. The Liberal campaign in 2015 put a heavy focus on revitalizing Canada’s image on the world stage, whether by joining peacekeeping missions, winning a United Nations security council seat or simply being relevant in the world press. Trudeau has posed for a glamorous photo shoot in Vogue magazine, appeared on 60 Minutes, been the subject of an unctuous profile in Rolling Stone magazine and even shot a web video for BuzzFeed, where he responded to memes about himself.
Although it played to a mostly American audience, the plan was for political benefits to trickle down to Canada. And, in the first two years of Trudeau’s term, the halo effect seemed to be working.
But the winds appear to be changing.
A security guard attempts to block a photo of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being greeted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. ORG XMIT: SKP126 THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
The first signs of trouble came in November during during the APEC summit in Vietnam. After talks broke down on the resurrected Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, Australian media accused Trudeau himself of “sabotaging” the negotiations by failing to show up at an important leaders’ meeting. Some outlets reported that anger towards Canada at the meeting was “palpable.” Trudeau was accused of being “captured by the anti-trade brigade,” and of raising issues like labour and environmentalism solely to squash any hope of a deal.
An editorial in the Australian Financial Review speculated that Trudeau’s action were due to the “young and culturally fashionable Canadian leader’s understandable obsession with ingratiating himself to … Donald Trump.”
At the APEC summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was accused of “sabotaging” trade talks and being anti-trade. Twitter
The incident inspired bad feelings in Japan, too. Bloomberg reported that Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne had tried to mend fences with the Japanese ambassador to Canada before Champagne left for China.
The cavalcade of ill-will continued days after the TPP incident as the Canadian delegation continued on to the Philippines. Trudeau caught an earful from Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, and other Filipino politicians, about 2,500 tonnes of Canadian garbage that had been left to rot in a port in the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau grasps the hands of Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc, left, and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during the ASEAN-Canada 40th Commemorative session on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
“(Trudeau) had too many gimmicks. They’re very rich, why not just bring (the garbage) back?,” Filipino Senator Cynthia Villar told Rappler, an English-language news outlet in the country.
With Canada holding discussions about three major trade deals simultaneously — NAFTA, the TPP and possible talks with China — it’s no surprise that the non-stop positive coverage may be coming to an end. Negotiations can be tough and these battles tend to be fought in the media.
Perhaps most disconcerting to Trudeau, though, will be that, compared to 2015, his charisma is no longer having the effect they once had. After weighing in on the Filipino garbage situation, Villar also gave a withering assessment of the prime minister.
“You all find him cute, some were even squealing. I don’t find him cute. I’m already old, I don’t go crazy anymore,” Villar said.

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