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Hoping to bury the India debacle, Trudeau heads to Peru to talk trade, migration

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this Thursday begins his first overseas excursion since a widely-panned trip to India in February, he might take comfort from knowing that at least one chaos-generating politician will be staying home.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s last-minute decision to skip the Summit of Americas in Lima, Peru has thrown the event’s entire agenda into doubt.

Dealing with Trump — either by capturing his flighty attention, or by avoiding it — was part of the summit plan for every other national delegation. Canada’s was no exception.

Loose talk by Trump administration officials in recent days had led to some speculation that the summit might see the signing of an agreement-in-principle on NAFTA — although Canadian officials were cautious about backing those claims. Without Trump present, that seems unlikely.

The NAFTA parties remain so far apart that, at best, they probably could sign only a vaguely-worded and non-binding statement of principles. And given Trump’s penchant for contradicting and repudiating his most senior officials, Canada and Mexico would see limited value in having such a document signed by Vice-President Mike Pence.

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