Those were the competing narratives playing out on Twitter after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s appearance at the Group of Seven meetings over the weekend in France, where he was photographed in two widely discussed moments.
The images seem to have played into two competing perspectives of Trudeau, with one casting him as the handsome and progressive alternative to U.S. President Donald Trump and the other positioning him as a leader more focused on style than substance.
In one image, U.S. First Lady Melania Trump seems to shoot Trudeau a smouldering look as they exchange cheek kisses at the G7 family photo.
In the other image, Trudeau seems to flaunt his pink argyle socks in front of the cameras during a bilateral sit-down with President Trump.
The two moments appear to have inflamed partisan tensions in the U.S. and Canada ahead of the Canadian federal election in October.
WATCH: Trudeau sits down with Trump at G7 summit
The Trudeau-Melania Trump moment triggered a tide of jokes about how she might prefer Canada’s “Prince Charming” PM to her own husband, who can be seen glancing down/blinking next to her.
“Looks like Justin Trudeau found Melania’s G7-spot,” one popular tweet read. It included the hashtag “#MelaniaLovesTrudeau.”
“It looks like they are all laughing at Trump while Melania kisses Trudeau behind his back,” another Twitter user wrote.
“Melania is ready to risk it all,” comedian Loni Love tweeted.
Several people also compared the moment to a viral photo from February 2017 in which Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, seems to look at Trudeau with a longing expression on her face. The Ivanka moment occurred during a Trudeau visit to the White House.
Get yourself someone who looks at you like Ivanka and Melania look at Justin Trudeau. pic.twitter.com/1QO3xEPECQ
— Paul Christian🔥 (@PaulChrist1an) August 25, 2019
Photos and videos from Sunday’s encounter show the seemingly “stolen” kiss was no such thing. The G7 leaders were exchanging friendly cheek kisses with one another’s wives — as is standard — before the photo shoot.
Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron‘s wife, Brigitte, exchanged a pair of cheek kisses just before Trudeau and Melania.
Sophie Gregoire Trudeau was not present at the summit.
Also on Sunday, Trudeau wore pink argyle socks to his meeting with President Trump, and his critics were quick to pounce when the photos surfaced online.
Several right-leaning figures, including Conservative MP Erin O’Toole and U.S. talk show host Piers Morgan, attacked Trudeau on Twitter for seemingly showing off his socks during a serious meeting.
The photos show Trudeau and Trump sitting in side-by-side chairs while seemingly in the middle of a conversation. Trump is sitting with both feet on the floor. Trudeau is sitting with one leg crossed over the other, exposing his brown shoes and his pink argyle socks.
“Trudeau’s sock game is … horrible,” wrote British-born, U.S.-based conservative commentator Piers Morgan.
Several people responded by praising Trudeau’s socks or criticizing Morgan’s insult.
“That’s all you got, Piers?” wrote one person. “Sad!”
“Socks? You mean he has feet?” pic.twitter.com/XH2JWCwbj7
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) August 26, 2019
“Once again, Trudeau’s impact at an international leaders’ meeting amounts to sock fashion,” MP O’Toole wrote in a retweet.
Once again, Trudeau’s impact at an international leaders’ meeting amounts to sock fashion. https://t.co/7nPAcK4OKy
— Erin O'Toole (@ErinOTooleMP) August 25, 2019
Trudeau’s socks occasionally stir up amusement and controversy, depending on how his audience feels about him in general.
Back in 2017, Trudeau made headlines several times by sporting Star Wars-themed socks at various high-visibility events such as a bilateral meeting with the prime minister of Ireland and during an interview on Live with Kelly and Ryan.
Sunday’s sock photo also triggered a fierce attack from Ezra Levant, the far-right Canadian commentator for Rebel Media.
Levant suggested that Trudeau was assuming a “submissive position” alongside Trump. “Even a child would know who is in control,” he wrote in the tweet, which has since been deleted.
Trump came to Trudeau’s defence with a retweet on Sunday evening.
Whoever had Donald Trump defending Justin Trudeau to Ezra Levant on their bingo card wins pic.twitter.com/8eEL7XcREp
— Adrian Morrow (@AdrianMorrow) August 26, 2019
“No, we actually had a very good and productive meeting,” Trump wrote. “Nice!”
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