World leader and social media maven Justin Trudeau dominated popular news headlines again when he met and posed with his Syrian namesake at a rodeo event in Calgary, Alberta. Baby Justin Trudeau Adam Bilan was born to refugee parents who fled Damascus in February last year and eventually settled in the Canadian province of Alberta. Muhammad and Affra Bilan were part of the 40,000-plus of Syrian refugees that have been settled by Trudeau’s Liberal government all over the country since December 2015.
Trudeau posed smiling while gently cradling the sleeping two-month old, who has so been named by his parents in gratitude to their new country and its leader, as shutters clicked furiously all around. In an era that requires leaders to constantly engage with their populace, the socially savvy Trudeau has been noted, by several editorials, for his ability to control his public narrative, with a constant feed of images and videos that go viral, to highlighting his affable, open and liberal personality and thoroughly modern outlook to life. He’s a guy you’d like to grab a craft beer with, eh? In all fairness, his government policies do seem to reflect the same.
But whether he’s giving a seemingly impromptu pop science primer on quantum computing, photobombing a graduation party shoot during a morning run (an image curiously captured by his official photographer) or simply sparking internet-wide discussions and debates over his choice of brightly-colored printed socks, Trudeau remains a mighty yielder of soft power. In that, he manages to trump many of his counterparts.