Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opened his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden today by saying it’s good to be working again with an administration that is serious about fighting climate change.
“Thank you again for stepping up in such a big way on tackling climate change,” Trudeau said today before going into the virtual meeting.
“U.S. leadership has been sorely missed over the past years, and I have to say, as we’re preparing the joint rollout and communique from this one, it’s nice the Americans are not pulling out all references to climate change and instead adding them in. So we’re really excited to be working with you on that.”
Trudeau said he has been looking forward to sitting down with Biden to discuss renewing the Canada-U.S. diplomatic relationship and getting both countries through the pandemic.
Biden, who spoke first during the brief pre-meeting appearance, said he was looking forward to working with Canada to tackle the pandemic and the economic recovery. The president also said he looked forward to discussing both nations’ approaches to tackling climate change, refugees and migration, and standing up for democratic values at home and on the global stage.
“As leaders of the major democracies, we have a responsibility to prove that democracy can still deliver for our people. There are a lot of leaders around the world who are trying to make the argument that autocracy works better,” Biden said.
“Equity for everybody, ensuring the benefits of growth are shared broadly, that’s how we are going to win the battle for the future.”
Biden told Trudeau that both countries need to get the pandemic under control as soon as possible, and that he was looking forward to seeing Trudeau in person in the future.
“The United States has no closer friend, no closer friend than Canada. That’s why you were my first call as president, my first bilateral meeting and of course my vice president spent some time living up in Montréal for high school,” Biden said, adding that the communication channels between Canada and the U.S. are “wide open.”
Watch: Biden, Trudeau, Harris, Freeland deliver opening remarks at virtual meeting:
Trudeau said the meeting will address ways the allies can work together to ensure a post-pandemic economic recovery.
“We’re also going to dig into the recovery, how we move forward on creating good jobs for Canadians and Americans, strengthening the middle class, helping those working hard to join it. As we move forward, there’s a lot to rebuild,” Trudeau said.
The U.S. roadmap
The White House released a fact sheet in advance of today’s virtual meeting between Trudeau and Biden.
This is Biden’s first bilateral meeting as president.
The fact sheet describes plans for a “road map” for progress in areas of mutual interest, including COVID-19, climate change, defence and social justice. It makes no mention of certain Canadian priorities, such as procuring more vaccine doses, freeing Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig from imprisonment in China or securing an exemption to Biden’s Buy American plan.
Experts want Ottawa to push hard for an exemption so that Canada isn’t harmed by Biden’s plan to prioritize U.S. businesses for federal infrastructure and procurement.
The fact sheet lays out six priority areas, including beating back the pandemic, rebuilding the economy on both sides of the border, and plans for a high-level climate ministerial meeting to align efforts to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Other areas of focus include improving social diversity and inclusion, expanding co-operation on continental defence and a modernized NORAD, and restoring a collective commitment to global institutions like NATO and the WTO.
The fact sheet also indicates plans to resurrect the North American Leaders’ Summit — a trilateral meeting of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, which hasn’t been held since 2016.