Everything about Andrew Scheer’s visit to India is designed to strike a contrast with Justin Trudeau’s disastrous subcontinental sojourn in February.
Instead of Mr. Trudeau’s cringe-worthy Bollywood wardrobe, Mr. Scheer is touring the country in a well-tailored business suit.
The Conservative leader is shunning pious photo ops at prominent temples and has not yet been filmed dancing.
If anyone was in danger of missing the point, Mr. Scheer has been happy to drive it home in interviews with Canadian media, repeating the word “serious” like a tic in an unsubtle effort to throw Mr. Trudeau’s jaunt into relief.
The prospect of the Opposition chief using his time in India for partisan point-scoring has loomed since this summer, when the visit was announced as a bid to “repair” the damage Mr. Trudeau had wrought. The possibility irked then. It has been even more grating to see Mr. Scheer go through with it.
Opposition leaders are entitled to travel for research – indeed, it’s a good idea, in case they find themselves in power one day – but they have no business running a parallel foreign policy or trying to undermine their country’s leader with veiled jabs on foreign soil.
But that is just what Mr. Scheer is doing – just as he did on a similar trip to Britain earlier this year. Speaking from New Delhi, he proudly told reporters about touting his plan to revive the Energy East pipeline and ship more Canadian oil to India in a private conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Tory Leader also told Mr. Modi he would prioritize free trade with India – an implicit contrast with the Liberal government’s approach.
None of this is exactly presidential candidate Richard Nixon throwing a “monkey wrench” in Vietnam peace talks in 1968 – the nadir of opposition pols meddling in foreign affairs. Mr. Scheer’s interventions in India have been relatively tame.
Even so, his visit has to be classed a failure. The Conservative Leader’s goal was to show how different he is from Mr. Trudeau by conducting a sober foreign trip free of shallow domestic politics. He managed to do the opposite.