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Canadians cast critical eye on Trudeau's Paris visit

media Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on a two-day visit to Paris starting Monday. Although he is internationally known as the other young, charismatic and French-speaking head of state, Trudeau was criticised at home during his recent official visits to China and India.

On his first official visit to France, Justin Trudeau will meet with Emmanuel Macron and address the French National Assembly, the first time a Canadian leader has done so.

All eyes in Canada are on Trudeau to see if he will come out of this visit with some tangible deals and his reputation intact after what were judged to be poor showings in both China and particularly India.

According to the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, the real purpose of Trudeau's trip February to India remains unclear to most, having only garnered 160 million euros in Indian investment, whereas Macron secured over 12 billion euros in contracts for France.

Trudeau was forced to cancel an invitation to a former Sikh separatist gunman after uproar in the media.

And his week-long visit was criticised for being too long, as he mixed pleasure with business, tacking on family photo-ops at tourist sites.

He left China empty-handed after a visit in December, failing to reach an expected agreement to launch free-trade talks.

"Exceptional" partnership but little trade

But Canada, with its substantial French-speaking population, views its partnership with France as exceptional and solid, with both countries seeing eye to eye on the fight against global warming and against terrorism.

Canada recently agreed to send six helicopters to support French and African troops fighting armed Islamists in Mali.

Macron and Trudeau are both youthful leaders and both want to be seen as major reformers in their own countries.

But France represents only 1.1 percent of Canada's imports and 1.0 percent of its exports, a situation the French hope will change thanks to the country's recent economic deal with the European Union.

Canada, which exports minerals, cars and farm produce to France, is nevertheless only the 35th exporter to France and the 31st importer.

Trudeau will end his tour in London, where he is due to meet Queen Elizabeth, who is still Canada's head of state, and Prime Minister Theresa May before attending a Commonwealth heads of government meeting.

Bill Gates, NZ's Arden meet Macron

Macron met New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday.

Although he is to visit Australia and New Caledonia in May, Macron said he would not be able to visit New Zealand on that trip but hoped to do so at a later date.

The president was to meet Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Monday afternoon.

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