Summit marathon will put new Canadian prime minister to the test, SAIS expert says

Foreign leaders will be watching early moves made by Justin Trudeau

New Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, surprise winner of Monday's national election, faces a steep learning curve as he takes office. Christopher Sands, a senior research professor and director of the Center for Canadian Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., examines Trudeau's campaign promises and the work ahead of him in a recent blog entry on SAIS Intrepid, an online journal devoted to coverage of Canada in world affairs.

Sands calls Trudeau's schedule of events for the first two months of office a "summit marathon." Four major world summits have been scheduled, and Sands suggests that adding a fifth, the North American Leaders summit, could help strengthen relations between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

Sands notes that other issues facing Trudeau include the use of the Royal Canadian Air Force in the fight against the Islamic State in the Middle East. Earlier today, Trudeau announced that he will withdraw Canadian fighter jets from the air strikes in Iraq and Syria .

Trudeau could upset the diplomatic status quo in many ways, Sands writes, pointing to the prime minister's aggressive stance on curtailing carbon emissions as a potential change:

The [previous] Harper government took the position that it would seek to coordinate its climate policy with the United States. Trudeau campaigned on a more aggressive approach to reducing carbon emissions, promising to call together provincial leaders within 90 days to discuss a national strategy. At Paris, Trudeau may announce a target for emissions reductions and then meet with the provinces in January to determine how Canada can reach that goal.

In his speech to Canada 2020 during the campaign, Trudeau argued that absent a bolder Canadian climate policy approach, Obama had little reason to approve a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. A new Canadian climate policy might not overcome Obama's concerns about the pipeline, but many Canadians will watch to see whether it has an effect on the U.S. president's increasingly sarcastic comments on the project.

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