JOe Biden virtually meets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday for the first bilateral meeting of the new American president’s mandate, which thus shows his priority given to close allies of the United States after the turbulence of the Trump era.
“I think the main objective of the trip, well … of the meeting, will be to establish a roadmap to re-energize the partnership between the United States and Canada, ” a senior American official said on Monday.
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. It therefore inaugurates with its important neighbor a series of “meetings” by videoconference, with joint press statements, but from a distance.
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.
But this unilateralist and sovereignist “America first” foreign policy of his predecessor Donald Trump should nevertheless be staged during these virtual talks.
Announcements on “next steps” in diplomacy, transport, infrastructure and the fight against Covid should take place Tuesday afternoon with the Canadian leader, said the US official.
Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau are expected to address several mutual priorities, such as climate change, the North American economy, the Arctic, and threats to democracy in Burma and Venezuela.
“By being on the same wavelength on several subjects, such as climate change or the revival of the economy, we can do more together”, the Canadian side echoed.
The two leaders should also address the thorny issues of China and its relationship to human rights, its “unjust economic practices” and its detention of two Canadian nationals, according to the American official.
Joe Biden’s decision to block, in the name of the fight against climate change, the Keystone XL pipeline project, fought by environmental associations, but supported by Ottawa, should also be mentioned. Justin Trudeau has already expressed his disappointment about the termination of this project, launched in 2008, canceled for the first time by Barack Obama for environmental reasons and then put back on track by Donald Trump.
The new tenant of the White House is treating the head of the Canadian government who had already received his first phone call to a foreign leader, two days after coming to power.
Justin Trudeau had a notoriously difficult relationship 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 the “new era” between the two neighboring countries, saying the Democrat was “much more aligned” with “the values of Canadians”.