Official visits are full of low-hanging fruit for journalists. They're expensive, prone to gaffes, and controversies drop from them like overripe apples.
Still, even by those standards, Justin Trudeau's current junket through India has been unusually fraught.
The trouble started on the tarmac in New Delhi, when the Indian government dispatched a junior minister to greet the Prime Minister and his family. This had the look of a snub. Mr. Trudeau didn't even get a welcome tweet from his counterpart, the media-savvy Narendra Modi.
If a slight was intended, it was probably over ongoing Indian concerns that Ottawa is soft on Sikh separatism. Perhaps as a result, Mr. Trudeau has met few, if any, senior central government officials since his arrival.
His first high-level meetings appear to be on Friday, including a tête-à-tête with Mr. Modi. The Hindustan Times quoted a veteran diplomat this week who said he had never seen an official trip to the country featuring so few official engagements with the Indian government.
In the meantime, Mr. Trudeau has sat down with business tycoons and regional leaders, and seen – or rather been seen at – a great many religious sites.
The PM is not on vacation. He has done government business every day of the trip. But he also seems to be doing two things of dubious value. The first is playing domestic politics. If an image of the Trudeau clan in front of the Taj Mahal appears in fundraising e-mails next year, don't be astonished.
The second is burnishing Brand Canada. Mr. Trudeau sees doing PR for the country as central to his job, and he's good at it. But if the theory is that his mere presence anywhere in the world automatically redounds to Canada's benefit, that is still not enough to justify a very expensive eight-day trip.
There are serious issues to broach in the Indo-Canadian relationship. India recently slapped a 50-per-cent tariff on yellow peas, a major Canadian export to the country. There's a foreign-investment protection deal pending between the two countries. And there are perennial environmental and security issues to discuss.
Maybe Mr. Trudeau's agenda for his meeting with Mr. Modi is chockablock with this stuff. Our fingers are crossed.
But India already seems puzzled by the informality of Canada's visit. We can see why.