Justin Trudeau plans to hang out at Davos for four full days, delivering a speech at the opening session of the World Economic Forum on Jan. 20, and participating in a panel session on Jan. 22 before departing on Jan. 23. Officials are mum on what else is on the agenda. And there could be a good reason for that.
On the one hand, Davos is perfect for this Prime Minister: half a week of blue-sky thinking on the biggest issues with other heads of government, business leaders, public intellectuals, journalists and movie stars. (Leonardo DiCaprio!)
On the other, Davos is less than popular with those who see it as a gathering of the .01 per cent, with the agenda an annual variant on How We're Doing at Ruling the World.
To drop in on Davos to give a speech, as Stephen Harper did in 2012, is one thing; to kick back and talk shop for four days could raise eyebrows. No wonder people around the Prime Minister have gone silent.
Mr. Trudeau's opening speech, entitled "A New Chapter for Canada," will outline the "global, regional and industry agendas of Canada's new government," the conference program states.
Two days later, Mr. Trudeau will be part of a panel discussing gender parity with Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, among others, moderated by CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour.
Tom Bernes, a former senior public servant who is a distinguished fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, believes Mr. Trudeau's days in Davos will be time well spent.
"The meeting offers an opportunity to connect in one location with a large array of people, which is particularly important for a leader having just assumed office and who has not met many of them," Mr. Bernes said in an e-mail exchange. "It also is a unique forum to deliver the message that 'Canada is back.' Without this opportunity, it would take much longer than four days to achieve this."
But the contradiction of the Liberals spending so much time at Davos is personified in International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, one of several cabinet ministers who will also be there. In her book Plutocrats, a none-too-flattering portrait of the very powerful and very rich that she wrote as a journalist, Ms. Freeland declared that an invitation to Davos, "marks an aspiring plutocrat's arrival on the international scene."
And yet, there Ms. Freeland will be, a cabinet minister talking up the Liberal government's trade agenda and making nice with the very people she once disparaged.
When Mr. Harper was in Davos in 2012, he criticized other governments for their lack of fiscal discipline and announced that he was raising the retirement age.
Banish that Canada from your minds, Mr. Trudeau will urge delegates. The new, improved Canada runs deficits so it can invest in infrastructure that helps fight climate change.
One suspects Davos is the sort of event Mr. Trudeau and the young policy geeks who surround him find irresistible. The big theme this year is Managing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In case (like me) you did not know, the first three industrial revolutions were driven by steam, electricity and digital technology. Industry 4.0, as it is also called, involves the massive acceleration of computing power under way that permits such innovations as the Internet of Things, driverless cars, 3-D printing and the like.
"This fourth revolution comes on us like a tsunami," Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, has said. "The speed of this revolution is so fast that it makes it difficult or even impossible for the political community to follow up with the necessary regulatory and legislative frameworks."
This is red meat to people such as Mr. Trudeau and his advisers: day after day of deep discussion on the role of government in the confluence of new technologies and entrenched cultural forces. It is hard to imagine anyone getting much sleep.
It may not matter if the Liberals come in for criticism over their Swiss sojourn. The kind of people who will shake their heads at Mr. Trudeau deep-diving into Davos are the kind of people who are unlikely to vote for him anyway. But Mr. Trudeau's base will approve.
Oh yes, the Liberal Party does have a base. It is everyone who is into Industry 4.0.
Editor's note: An earlier digital version of this story incorrectly stated Mr. Schwab's first name. It is Klaus, not Karl. This story has been corrected.