An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
MR. PRIME MINISTER, the last time you visited the White House, it was all about civility, dignity, grace. Your hosts, the Obamas, gave you the red-carpet treatment; it was all smiles and warmth.
Today, you will meet with the “new sheriff,” the man who creates turmoil with every word he utters, every executive order he signs, every Tweet he twits, er, tweets.
Your advisors are telling you to be careful. Don’t get him riled, they say. Don’t talk about his travel ban or his wall, and don’t stare at his hair. Talk nice. Bring up the strong historic relationship between our two nations as often as you can. We need the jobs, after all.
It would be a good idea not to mention anything about the time we torched the very building you will be meeting in and chased the guy who was president at the time out of town.
Well, here are some different thoughts on that — don’t take any crap. The man is a bully, through and through. He’ll try to impress you with how tough he is. He’ll want to push you around a little — symbolically, at least.
If you have to, push back. Bullies only understand strength and force. You are there to represent the pride of your nation, and as much as we value the friendship of Americans and their trade, it does no good to suck up to their leaders.
Don’t expect Donald Trump to understand Canada. American presidents usually don’t. John F. Kennedy couldn’t pronounce John Diefenbaker’s name, and they didn’t get along. Neither did Lyndon Johnson (another bully president who wasn’t unlike Donald Trump) and the gentleman prime minister Lester B. Pearson. Some say they came pretty close to a physical confrontation one day.
Richard Nixon called your father Pierre “a lousy son of a bitch” and “a pompous egghead.”
No, if this new guy smells fear, he’ll attack. If he flashes that goofy fake grin — the one where his little chin wrinkles up — it means he’s up to something. He’ll grin a lot. Be polite as much as possible, but don’t let him get away with anything. Canadians don’t want a prime minister who lets their country be pushed around.
And when you step up to the microphones afterward, all you have to say is, “We had a very candid and productive meeting.”