March 11, 2016 / 4:37 PM / 4 years ago

American fanfare for Canada's PM raises eyebrows back home

TORONTO (Reuters) - The attention paid by Americans to the visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Washington this week sparked cynicism and delight back home, as Canadians more accustomed to being ignored weren’t entirely sure what to make of the fanfare.

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) during the arrival ceremony at the White House in Washington March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

With photos of the visit between Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama gracing Friday’s front pages of the New York Times and Washington Post, Canadians lined up to dismiss and embrace the high-profile of the visit in equal measure.

“The American media noticed us!” a headline in Canada’s National Post newspaper noted in mock delight, as it devoted the entire front page to a photo of Obama and Trudeau hugging, eyes closed, and the next four pages to details of the visit, noting the “budding bromance” between Obama and Trudeau.

But columnist Rex Murphy noted the parallels between the media attention of Trudeau and that devoted to the newly elected Obama years earlier, and the risk of being judged on style before substance is proven: “... while it’s always nice for Canada, or her representatives, to be in America’s and the world’s eye, too much should not be made of it.”

The election of the photogenic Trudeau, 44, in October has vaulted Canada from obscurity to celebrity abroad, with foreign news outlets and fashion magazines alike praising the Liberal prime minister for his progressive take on feminism, the environment and refugees, as well as his good looks.

That global audiences are joining the homegrown “Trudeaumania,” a phenomenon first seen a generation ago amid the popularity of Trudeau’s father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, leaves Canadians a bit bemused.

“You would think that this was tantamount to the moon landing!” one commenter wrote in response to a Canadian Broadcasting Corp solicitation for comments on what Canadians thought of the Washington visit.

“Enough with the glitter and love-ins,” another chimed in, trying to counter a wave of positive comment about the success of Trudeau on the world stage.

But while the Toronto Star, the nation’s largest newspaper, acknowledged the high-profile visit would be hard for cynical Canadians to take, it cautioned against scorning the fanfare.

“Dismiss showmanship at your peril because without it, we are nothing more than squabbles over soft-wood lumber and country-of-origin labeling. It may not last. But right now it is a win for Canada,” columnist Tim Harper wrote.

Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by James Dalgleish

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