Trudeau finally gets a home visit from Biden


Joe Biden’s last official visit to Canada carried a palpable sensation.

Change is in the air. Authoritarian leaders in Syria and Turkey are consolidating power. Britain has voted to leave the European Union. And Donald Trump is waiting to take over the White House.

“True leaders” are in short supply, and Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be called to step up, said the vice president of the United States, who is on a farewell tour in the waning days of the Obama administration, said.

Six years later, Biden returned — this time as president — and the world was very different. His message probably won’t be.

Goldy Hyder, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Business Council, who spent most of last week meeting with US officials in DC, said: “These times in the US are very serious. .

Chinese spy balloons are drifting through North American airspace. Russian MiG fighter jets are shooting down an American drone as the bloody war in Ukraine continues. North Korea is testing a long-range ballistic missile.

And Xi Jinping will sit down on Monday with Vladimir Putin in Moscow, a meeting that will highlight the geopolitical context in which the United States sees the world — and increase pressure on Canada to maintain a willing and reliable, not only in Ukraine but also other places as well.

Hyder said of that meeting: “It shines a much brighter light on security in all its forms: national security, economic security, energy security, cybersecurity — all of these things. become the roof.”

“For America, nothing is more important and nothing is more important to us, quite frankly.”

Import key minerals, key components of electric vehicle batteries, semiconductors, wind turbines and military equipment that both Biden and Trudeau see as pivotal to the development of a green economy.

Ending China’s dominance in that area is Job #1 for the Biden administration, and Canada is full of important minerals. But it takes time to build a mining industry virtually from scratch, especially in this day and age — and experts say the United States is growing impatient.

“The reality is that no one is moving fast enough against escalating demand,” said Eric Miller, president of the DC-based Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, which specializes in Canadian-American affairs.

Miller noted that a growing number of jurisdictions, including the European Union and US states like California and Maryland, are drawing up ambitious plans to end the production of internal combustion vehicles in 2035.

He added that it is only 12 years away, while it can take up to a decade to get approval for a mine, let alone raise capital, build and put it into production.

“The challenge you have in a democracy is that the processes are slow and, in fact, too slow for the green transition needs to be,” says Miller.

“So when you look at the big picture, of course, you think other people’s systems are inherently easier than yours.”

National security has also been a top priority since a flurry of floating objects last month exposed what Norad commander General Glen VanHerck called a “domain-aware gap” in the two nations’ defenses. Old house of North America.

Andrea Charron, a professor of international relations at the University of Manitoba, said updating Norad has long been a priority for both countries, but rarely either side speaks much in public.

“The problem for Norad is that it’s really political — it’s very hard to get politicians to commit to funding and realize that this is North America’s first line of defense in 65 years,” Charron said. “.

“Russian aggression and these Chinese balloons now make it politically prominent to try to speed things up and make those commitments.”

Hyder said he hoped the United States would continue to press Canada to meet its NATO spending commitments, while reiterating his hope that Canada would eventually agree to take on a leadership role in restoring some order. in Haiti, where gangs are destructive and lawless.

So far, international efforts to provide training and resources to the country’s national police force have not done the job, the United Nations special envoy for Haiti warned in DC when she call on countries to act.

“We don’t get the job done,” Helen La Lime said at a meeting of the Organization of American States last week. “We need to get to work on rebuilding this country again.”

Itinerant criminal gangs have steadily increased in power following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021, and are now believed to have controlled more than half of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Even in the face of public pressure – if diplomatic – from US officials, Trudeau would rather help from afar, invest in security forces and use sanctions to target elites Haiti’s powerful flower is fueling unrest.

Charron warned Haiti is a “complete mess” that cannot be resolved simply by military intervention, regardless of the size of the force. She added that the Canadian Armed Forces were overstretched, facing ongoing long-term commitments to Ukraine and chronic staffing shortages.

“Haiti is a quagmire, and no one particularly wants to get in there – especially if the US doesn’t have an exit strategy.”

The question of irregular migration in both directions across the Canada-U.S. border is also likely to be raised during the two-day visit, although the Biden administration is reluctant to renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement. , which critics say encourages migrants to sneak in. Canada to apply for asylum.

Also, look for multiple mentions of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the successor to NAFTA known in Canada as CUSMA that now provides the framework for much of the economic relationship between the two countries.

No one wants to renegotiate that deal right now, but they need to think about it anyway, Hyder said: the six-year review clause means it could be reopened in 2026, Hyder said.

“We’ve all had a near-death experience a few years ago; it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long,” he says.

“But we’re still here. In a few years, we’ll be back to it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 19, 2023.

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