“The United States has no closer friend than Canada,” said the Democrat at the start of this meeting by videoconference. “This is why you were the recipient of my first call as president as well as my first bilateral meeting.”
Justin Trudeau hailed him “the extraordinary friendship” between the two neighboring countries.
A senior US official said Monday that “the main objective” of the meeting was “to establish a roadmap to revitalize the partnership between the United States and Canada.”
Covid-19 pandemic obliges, President Biden has decided for the moment to refrain from traveling abroad or from receiving counterparts in person at the White House. He therefore inaugurated a series of virtual “meetings”.
For now, this will prevent anyone who relies on his ability to forge good personal relationships, as well as on the friendships forged when he was Barack Obama’s vice-president between 2009 and 2017, from playing on direct contact to demonstrate that “America is back” to its allies.
This unilateralist and sovereignist “America first” foreign policy of his predecessor Donald Trump should nevertheless be staged during these videoconferences.
Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau were to address several mutual priorities, such as tackling climate change and the pandemic, as well as reviving the North American economy.
“Thank you once again for getting involved so energetically in the fight against climate change, the American leadership has been missed a lot in recent years”, said the Canadian leader in a direct criticism of the ex-president who had withdrawn the States- United of the Paris climate agreement, joined again by Joe Biden.
He even quipped that the Americans no longer remove “all references to climate change” from joint communiques – “on the contrary, they add”, and “it’s nice”.
Justin Trudeau, however, did not mention, from the outset, the decision of his interlocutor to block the Keystone XL pipeline project, precisely in the name of the environment. He had already expressed his disappointment about the end of this project fought by environmental associations but supported by Ottawa, which Donald Trump had put back on track.
“This is a commitment that the president made” during his campaign, said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, taking note of the Canadian protests.
The two men were also to discuss the competition with China, its relationship to human rights, its “unjust economic practices” and its detention of two Canadian nationals, according to the American official.
“As leaders of major democracies, it behooves us to demonstrate that democracy can still meet the expectations of our fellow citizens,” at a time when “many leaders around the world are trying to assert that autocracies work better,” said Joe Biden pleaded.
The new White House tenant is treating the head of the Canadian government, who had notoriously difficult relations with Donald Trump.
The Canadian had upset the former US president at the G7 summit in June 2018 in Quebec by deeming Washington’s decision to impose taxes on steel and aluminum imports from Canada “insulting”. The Republican billionaire had, in retaliation, withdrawn the signature of the United States from the final communiqué, in passing calling the host of the summit a “very dishonest and weak” person.
The following year, Donald Trump considered that Justin Trudeau was “hypocritical” after the broadcast of a video showing him making fun of the American with European leaders at a NATO summit.
After Joe Biden entered the Oval Office, Justin Trudeau hailed a “new era” between the two neighboring countries, believing that the Democrat was “much more aligned” with “the values of Canadians”.