Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says North Americans can expect their leaders to send a pro-free trade message during the Three Amigos summit in Ottawa this week.

Protectionist rhetoric often ramps up in the U.S. ahead of a presidential election, and Republican candidate Donald Trump has said he would renegotiate or break NAFTA. Clinton criticized NAFTA in her first presidential run almost 10 years ago (as did Barack Obama).

But McKenna says Obama, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto are "aligned in believing we need trade relations."

"We're very lucky that we have a continental approach," McKenna said in an interview with Robert Fife, host of CTV's Question Period.

"It's a great message to the world that we're working together, we believe in trade... There's a lot of noise and a lot of other things going on, but it's going to be great," she said.

McKenna is one of the cabinet ministers playing a major role in the Three Amigos meeting, more formally known as the North American Leaders' Summit, which is expected to spend a significant amount of time on climate issues.

Pena Nieto arrives in Canada Monday for an official visit, to be followed Wednesday by Obama. The leaders last met in 2014 when Stephen Harper was prime minister. Canada was supposed to host a summit last year, but it was postponed amid a variety of irritants between the three countries, including Obama blocking the Keystone XL pipeline extension and Canada refusing to lift a visa imposed on travellers from Mexico.

The Liberal government has promised repeatedly to lift the visa, but it's not clear whether it will happen in time for the summit. Immigration Minister John McCallum said last month he is in talks with Public Safety Canada to mitigate the risk of an increase in refugee claimants from Mexico, which was the reason the Conservatives imposed the visa.