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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a meeting with members of the U.S. Senate March 10, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.Alex Wong/Getty Images

It was Justin Trudeau's international leadership campaign. He closed his official visit to Washington with a day of selling the narrative of Trudeau progressive politics for the world.

With his picture on the front page of the New York Times, Mr. Trudeau was already being declared Barack Obama's new progressive partner after an official visit and a celebrity-leader reception at a state dinner.

On Friday, Canada's Liberal Prime Minister was branding himself in Washington as a global liberal leader, and for Americans, while mentioning no names, as a very un-Trump politician. Some of it was reminiscent of Mr. Trudeau's leadership campaign.

At a talk for students at American university, he roamed the stage in rolled up shirtsleeves and used the same opening patter he used to draw in student listeners long before last fall's election campaign: telling them traditional politicians think short term, but young people think about the future, and politicians need their input more than ever because short-term thinking no longer works for modern global challenges. "I'm very much interested in what you have to say," he told them.

His answers were largely familiar to Canadians – though perhaps not to his American audiences – on climate change, women's equality and economic inequality. But the twist here was that he sold his political experience of Liberal triumph as a pattern for politics across the globe.

Last fall's Canadian election campaign, he said, "featured a number of different narratives that are repeating themselves around the world." One, he said, was that the Conservatives promoted "fear and division," saying they had set up "snitch lines" for so-called barbarian cultural practices, but in the end, he insisted, "I found that Canadians, in any case, find it hard to sustain anger and fear for very long."

It was a theme the students asked about, too, in the midst of a rancorous U.S. election season featuring an isolationist Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, who has played on racial resentment and fears of Muslims.

He insisted it's easy to stoke anger among people anxious about their next paycheque or the quality of life they'll give their children, and harder to make an optimistic appeal for a better quality of life for all – but insisted he had done so. The Conservatives had stripped the citizenship of someone convicted of terrorism, and he found himself in the politically difficult position of defending the restoration of their citizenship, on the principle that citizenship should not be devalued, he said. "And yet I stand here as Prime Minister of Canada," he said. "People are reasonable."

Mr. Trudeau's recollection of just how completely he beat back those notions may be rosy, however. His position on wearing the niqab in citizenship ceremonies was never popular in Quebec, though he won many seats there, anyway. But he pressed the possibility of winning while backing inclusion as a real progressive hope.

The talk, and a later one for more well-heeled Washington progressives co-hosted by the Center for American Progress (CAP), was part of Mr. Trudeau's U.S. lobbying, but more in the straightforward making of a political brand. As a third-party leader before the election campaign, his tacticians called for the Liberals to build a "network of networks," and that's what he was trying to do among America's political left. He's trying to position himself among their movement's global leaders.

The rock-star attention, the swooning over his looks, the picture with pandas – this week, it's been augmented by his portrayal by left-leaning Americans as a new liberal wave from Canada. Vermont senator Patrick Leahy called him a "breath of fresh air," and on social media, liberal Americans heralded his "bromance" with Barack Obama.

His speech later Friday, co-hosted by CAP, a high-powered left-leaning think tank that is deeply connected to Democratic politics, was an event specifically labelled as part of an initiative to advance the global progressive movement. Mr. Trudeau offered four key themes that progressive politicians around the world must embrace to succeed: inclusive growth, so expanding wealth doesn't leave ordinary folks behind; openness and transparency; innovation, to expand opportunity; and an embrace of diversity.

It wasn't exactly a manifesto, but it was a new PM offering his lessons to American liberals – and in the process, positioning himself as a global leader in their political movement.