Greeting each other outside the Élysée Palace, that most pompous of Parisian venues, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron skipped the formalities and went in for a hug.
Why not? Young, energetic, techy and liberal, our PM and the French President seem cut from the same bespoke fabric.
The two leaders’ global reputations have been diverging, though. Increasingly, Mr. Macron is seen as the heavyweight, Mr. Trudeau as the lightweight.
Some of this is unfair, down to the Prime Minister’s flamboyant choice of socks and the like. Mr. Trudeau has led a busy and in many ways successful government, steering the country left as promised with a tax hike on the rich, a big influx of refugees and a bill to legalize pot, plus a national standard and federal backstop on carbon pricing.
Still, it’s not hard to see why Mr. Macron has earned a reputation for gravitas that his Canadian counterpart might envy.
The French president’s first term has been a flurry of initiatives aimed at the country’s many structural problems. He cut a wealth tax to spur investment and pushed through labour-code reforms opposed by France’s powerful unions. He has taken on the reform of national shibboleths, from the state train monopoly to the baccalauréat exam.
And he has been on the vanguard of global issues, from the power of Silicon Valley to climate change.
Granted, France has a stronger executive and more radical political culture than Canada does, which lends itself to Mr. Macron’s activist stance.
But Canada has serious structural problems, too, from a lag in worker productivity and a shortfall in business investment to a backlog of asylum seekers and a generational crisis of opioid addiction.
Mr. Trudeau has quietly worked to address some of these issues. But he has also burned through too much political capital on petty fights, like the summer job attestation, and ill-judged distractions, like his recent India trip. While he and Mr. Macron are both balls of energy, the French President seems to expend his more purposefully.
Here’s hoping that, as they brush shoulders at the Élysée, some of that discipline rubs off.