The leaders made public speeches before and after the meeting. Biden speaks at the Capitol Hill office in the Roosevelt Room of the Trudeau White House. Media access in Ottawa and Washington is restricted, and they have no doubts.
The first virtual bilateral meeting held at the White House proposed a road map for cooperation, focusing on the environment.
There may not be a handshake, but the tone is warm. Biden said: “The United States has no friends closer than Canada.”
Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland laughed under their masks.
Trudeau has the same name as Biden from the beginning, a habit he traced back to the Obama administration. By the end of the afternoon, Biden responded in kind.
There is no mention of former President Donald Trump, although Trudeau praised Biden for reiterating America’s leadership in global climate policy. He said: “When we are preparing to jointly launch and issue a communiqué from this plan, when Americans do not withdraw all references on climate change, but add them, it is really great.”
At the start of the two-hour meeting, Vice President Kamala Harris talked enthusiastically about going to high school in Montreal. Freeland boasted that she had read Harris’s autobiography and agreed that French is a difficult language to learn. Although Biden studied languages for five years when he was young, he still joked about his French.
For all the nuances, the meeting did not resolve the deep-rooted problems between the two countries.
The White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki warned reporters in advance that the United States will not announce plans to share the Covid-19 vaccine with its northern neighbors, nor will it exempt Biden’s “Buy US Executive Order”. The White House’s application is “Still evaluating.” Government officials promised that they will not change Biden’s position on the Keystone XL pipeline.
Nonetheless, leaders make sure to openly pay attention to common priorities and issues that are particularly important to each other.
After the meeting, President Trudeau of Canada and the United States released a new joint “road map” for Canada-US cooperation after the meeting, promising to update the 2030 carbon emission targets set by the Paris Agreement before the United States hosts the climate summit in April. They agreed to rely on scientific and public health advice when considering future relaxation of the Canada-U.S. border, and they are committed to working with multinational agencies to support the global distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Biden reiterated Washington’s support for Michael Kovrig and Michael Swarf, who were detained by China for more than two years, apparently in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executives at the request of the United States. Trudeau acknowledged the severe winter storm in Texas and pointed out that Saskatchewan’s SaskPower utility company has exported electricity to the state.
They almost ended the day’s activities side by side, and one leader could see the speech of the other leader on the monitor next to the podium.
Trudeau said: “There is no doubt that we are in a difficult time.” “But we do not face them alone.”