Barack Obama Endorses Justin Trudeau Amid Canadian Election

U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walk from the Oval Office to a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Canada’s federal election takes place October 21, with early voting having just concluded over the country’s Thanksgiving weekend. As of now, polls show a close race between Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party and Andrew Scheer’s Conservative Party. In addition, the New Democratic Party (NDP), led by Jagmeet Singh, is showing impressive numbers, and he has suggested he is open to a coalition government with Trudeau to prevent a conservative government.

Given Canada’s stable economy, the decline in the favorability of Trudeau’s Liberals has reportedly come as “a great surprise” to diplomats, per CBC.

“The world is paying attention to Canada and elections. Justin Trudeau was popular — so popular — and how relatively quickly, in three years, support for him went down. People are simply interested,” said a long-serving diplomat that spoke anonymously.

In particular, the diplomat said that every election in the world is important because of the “populist movement.”

They claim people are curious to see whether “populism is gaining” or whether the movement will fizzle, and politics will return “to some kind of normality.”

Reflecting this national interest in Canada’s election, United States president Barack Obama endorsed Trudeau via Twitter on Wednesday, referencing his past relationship with the prime minister.

“I was proud to work with Justin Trudeau as President. He’s a hard-working, effective leader who takes on big issues like climate change. The world needs his progressive leadership now, and I hope our neighbors to the north support him for another term.”

The comment led to attacks by some for getting involved in a foreign election and praise from others for supporting Trudeau in the midst of the purported wave of “Trumpism.”

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Per CTV News, Obama and Trudeau have remained friends since Obama left the office. In 2016, Obama invited Trudeau to a U.S. state dinner, marking the first one held for a Canadian prime minister since 1997. At the dinner, Obama made a toast to “the friendship between Americans and Canadians.”

Trudeau’s dip in support is partly because of resurfaced photos of the prime minister in blackface when he was younger. The scandal tarnished his progressive image and led to ridicule by many, including Daily Show host Trevor Noah, who joked that Trudeau would be the “most annoying person on Halloween.”

Obama’s endorsement could help Trudeau pick up progressive Canadian voters, which CTV News reports is a key bloc that Trudeau is attempting to secure as the NDP surges.

According to Liberal Party spokesperson Zita Astravas, the party did not pay for Obama’s endorsement.