US & Canada

Is the US experiencing Trudeaumania?

Justin Trudeau with two pandas at Toronto Zoo Image copyright Canadian government
Image caption Cute factor - Mr Trudeau is seen as having a positive outlook

Following Canada's young and photogenic Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his visit to Washington is, it seems, the condition known as "Trudeaumania".

Profiles in Vogue Magazine, big newspapers and an appearance on primetime US TV reflect renewed attention being directed north of the border.

Requests for an invitation to the White House state dinner, the first for a Canadian leader since 1997, have come "fast and furious" while a waiting list for a think tank-hosted reception is said to be "a mile long", CBC reported.

Part of Mr Trudeau's appeal has been put down to the fame of his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

"He has a name that resonates with people. Americans remember his dad," former Canadian ambassador to Washington Raymond Chretien told the Huffington Post.

Who is Justin Trudeau?

Trudeau to use father's desk

Americans search for 'move to Canada'

But it is also driven by the apparent contrast between Mr Trudeau and some of the candidates currently vying for their parties' presidential nominations.

"There's a kind of buzz about it. Having somebody who has a bit more of an inspirational politics is a respite from lot of what we're seeing at the moment," Matt Browne from the Centre for American Progress told the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

Canada's inclusive prime minister has been dubbed the "anti-Trump" in the Washington Post for his differences with Republican front runner Donald, who has caused alarm in some quarters with policies aimed at Mexicans and Muslims.

Mr Trudeau's Twitter feed shows him supporting clean energy, welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada and accepting a headdress from Canada's indigenous Tsuut'ina people. Mr Trump's currently contains insults directed at his rivals.

Some of the social media users who had been exploring possible moves to Canada in the event of a Trump presidency now want Canada to come to them, imploring Mr Trudeau to be their next leader.

One political website dubbed him simply "Canada's Obama".

Image copyright AP
Image caption The US is showing plenty of interest in Canada's new prime minister
Image copyright Canada government
Image caption The PM, here accepting a headdress from indigenous Canadians, is seen as being inclusive

All of this is good news for Mr Trudeau, who told CBS 60 Minutes that Canada felt ignored by the US.

"Because you can't be Canadian without being aware of at least one other country, the United States, because it's so important to us," he said. "I think we sometimes like to think that, you know, Americans will pay attention to us from time to time, too."

But he was also bold enough to encourage the US also to pay "a little more attention to the world" in general.

Much online reaction to the interview focused on a photograph displayed on screen said to show Mr Trudeau's father Pierre and his mother Margaret, but which actually showed Sex and the City actress Kim Cattrall, then aged 24, who dated Pierre Trudeau after he separated from his wife.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall was misidentified by CBS as Justin Trudeau's mother Margaret

Mr Trudeau's wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, a former TV host who now campaigns for various causes, is also eagerly awaited in Washington.

She will have meetings with Michelle Obama and will show support for the US First Lady's Let Girls Learn initiative to boost education for girls around the world.

"Inside the White House and beyond that, there is clearly an interest in who she is as a person, and that element of glamour within the couple adds to the whole occasion," said Mr Browne from the Center for American Progress.

No guest list has yet been released for Thursday's state dinner, but some of the biggest names in politics and entertainment are expected to attend. It will be followed by an after party at the sleek W Hotel.

Mr Trudeau will also attend an official welcome on the White House lawn and a state lunch hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry as well as events hosted by the Canada 2020 think tank on Wednesday and Friday.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Trump...
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption ... and 'anti-Trump'

However, despite the evident glamour surrounding his trip, some say Mr Trudeau has more to do if he wants to be recognised outside the US political establishment,

White House veteran Brett Bruen said unconventional media appearances, such as sitcom appearances, would "establish him as an American celebrity" noticed by more people than just "pundits and observers".

"Now you want to go capture the interest of the man or woman on the street who'll say: 'Yeah, I know Prime Minister Trudeau. When he speaks about immigration issues or climate change or trade, I'm going to pay closer attention, because he's someone that I see regularly,'" he told the Huffington Post.

More on this story