Trudeau carries growth, spending message to G20 and APEC summits

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will push his spending and growth agenda when he meets leaders from the G20 and Asia-Pacific on his first trip abroad.

Trudeau departs on his first foreign trip on Friday when he travels to Turkey for a gathering of G20 leaders before moving on to the Philippines next week for the APEC summit.

Trudeau, whose successful election campaign was based on a plan to help Canada’s middle class by stimulating growth, said that commitment will be the focus of his discussions with world leaders at both meetings.

During the campaign, Trudeau distinguished himself from his Conservative and NDP opponents by promising to run modest deficits over the course of the next three years to support an infrastructure program to stimulate growth.

“I’ll be talking about the fact that in order to create more global growth, particularly in support of the middle class around the globe, we need to be investing,” Trudeau told a news conference.

“I believe in investment rather than austerity.”

Earlier this week, the parliamentary budget officer suggested that the new Liberal government would be facing larger-than-expected deficits, which could complicate that plan.

On Thursday, Trudeau appeared confident that he was heading to a meeting of like-minded leaders. Former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, on the other hand, has argued at past global meetings that growth and austerity are not mutually exclusive.

The G20 will likely promise new measures on infrastructure and trade as part the “inclusive” growth agenda that host Turkey has advanced, wrote John Kirton, the University of Toronto expert on summitry in a recent analysis of the Turkish agenda.

Trudeau will meet leaders from around the globe, including U.S. President Barack Obama, during his first week of international travel.

Trudeau will be looking to reset relations with Washington after the Obama administration rejected the Keystone XL pipeline. He also promised during the campaign to withdraw Canadian fighter jets from the U.S.-led coalition that’s bombing Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq.

The prime minister said a decision on that is still days or weeks away and will be done in a responsible way “and in co-ordination with our allies.”

He said Canada would be “moving towards a different way where Canada can help militarily and in many other ways as well.”

Trudeau also rejected any suggestion that he and Obama might be on less than friendly terms when they meet for the first time.

“There are many issues that Canada and the U.S. are close allies on,” Trudeau said, citing climate change as one.

He said that he and Obama would be working together to ensure the Paris climate summit — the fourth summit Trudeau will attend this month — would be a success.

Trudeau said “conversations on the economy and security will dominate our discussions,” including the need to maintain vigilance in the fight against terrorism.

White House Spokesman Josh Earnest also sounded upbeat as he confirmed Obama would meet Trudeau in Manila next Thursday, the second day of the APEC summit.

“Clearly, Canada is also a country where we have enormous overlapping interests, including the TPP, including our shared commitment to counter terrorism and also our co-operation here in the hemisphere,” said Earnest, referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Trudeau said Thursday he is committed to consulting with Canadians on the TPP, and having a full debate in Parliament on it.

Trudeau will leave Ottawa for Turkey just nine days after being sworn in and introducing his new cabinet to Canadians.

When he returns to Ottawa at the end of next week, he’ll be ramping up for a second trip in the days following. He is to travel to London to meet Queen Elizabeth ahead of the Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Malta.

Trudeau will then take part in the COP 21 climate talks in Paris with about 80 other invited world leaders to close the month.