Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has won a rousing endorsement at the Group of 20 summit from an unlikely source: Donald Trump.
The U.S. President heaped praise on Mr. Trudeau during an event marking the establishment of a $200-million fund managed by the World Bank to help female entrepreneurs. Mr. Trudeau announced on Saturday that Canada is contributing $20-million to the program.
"We have a great neighbour in Canada and Justin is doing a spectacular job in Canada," Mr. Trump said as he began his remarks. "Everybody loves him and they love him for a reason. So congratulations on the job you are doing."
Mr. Trudeau has enjoyed celebrity status at the G20. He's been profiled in two German newspapers, won cheers at a rock concert that opened the G20 and received a string of compliments from assorted leaders.
"For the Canadians, you are all so lucky to have this man as prime minister. He has brought an incredible breath of fresh air, directness, commitment to the issues," gushed World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Mr. Trudeau's interventions during a discussion on terrorism saying, "I'd also like to express my happiness in your interventions in the sessions we just had. The wavelength was the same, yours and mine."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also offered some praise, telling other leaders during one session to consult Mr. Trudeau if they needed help figuring out how to use their headsets and microphones. "Just ask Justin, Justin can show you," Ms. Merkel told the leaders.
It's not clear if this star power has translated into anything concrete at the G20. Despite Mr. Trump's lavish comments, he is not holding a one-on-one session with Mr. Trudeau during the summit. And while Mr. Trudeau has been winning compliments, most of the serious business has been done by others, notably Mr. Trump during his lengthy meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Canadian Prime Minister also has some competition in the celebrity department from French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been taking on a leadership role at the meeting even though this is his first G20. On Saturday Mr. Macron joined Ms. Merkel and Mr. Trump for a meeting about the conflict in Ukraine, signalling his rising stature in world affairs. And despite entreaties from Mr. Trudeau and others, the G20 leaders do not appear to have reached a consensus on backing the Paris climate accord, which Mr. Trump has rejected.
Nonetheless, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Mr. Trudeau has played an important role at the G20 as a bridge between Mr. Trump and the European leaders, many of whom remain deeply skeptical of the American president and his positions on trade and environmental protection. "I see the Prime Minister as a really positive force around the table," Mr. Morneau said Saturday.
Mr. Morneau also indicated that G20 leaders had reached a consensus on trade, by recognizing free trade and certain forms of protectionism. That appears to be a compromised aimed at getting agreement from Mr. Trump, who has been opposed to open trade. "We stand united in opposition to protectionism," said Mr. Morneau. "That I think will be a positive outcome from this meeting. We all recognize the importance of trade to our economies, the importance of trade to growth and the difficulties that protectionism presents. That's a subject that has reached consensus."