Justin Trudeau lands in Washington for official visit
Published Wednesday, March 9, 2016 4:27AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 9, 2016 11:06PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and their three children Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrien, are now in Washington, D.C. for a three-day visit.
The prime minister’s itinerary includes talks with President Barack Obama and the first White House state dinner for a Canadian prime minister in 19 years.
Sources tell CTV News the prime minister will offer to return the favour, by hosting the presidents of the U.S. and Mexico for the next North American Leaders Summit.
The state dinner, which takes place Thursday, is themed around spring -- a choice observers say is symbolic of a new start to bilateral relations.
The White House’s menu, revealed Wednesday, includes nods to Canadian cuisine, such as a duck-poutine canape and lamb drizzled with Yukon whiskey.
On the first night of their visit, the Trudeaus attended a gala at the Renwick Gallery, where Toronto's The Weeknd performed.
Trudeau briefly left the gallery to offer a wave to a boisterous crowd outside. “Great to see you all,” he hollered above screams. “Thanks for the welcome.”
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan were among those who walked through the Mountie-flanked gallery entrance.
The president did not attend. The two leaders will meet one-on-one Thursday, where they are expected to discuss climate change, border security and the expired softwood lumber agreement.
Trudeau said Wednesday in question period that he hopes to have “good news” on the lumber issue within weeks, adding that he has already raised it with the president.
However, Canada’s Ambassador to the United States David MacNaughton told CTV’s Chief Anchor Lisa LaFlamme not to expect a softwood lumber deal to be “tied up by this visit,” adding “it’s a complicated file.”
MacNaughton did say he expects some specific announcements on “border issues, the movement of goods and people, and (border) pre-clearance, hopefully.” He said climate change will also “obviously” be on the agenda.
Gordon Giffin, a former U.S. Ambassador to Canada, told CTV News Channel that “no matter what the announcements are this week” the visit will force the U.S. government “to turn attention to Canada” for at least a few months.
Although Obama has hosted 11 state dinners, Trudeau’s visit is getting more attention than usual in the U.S capital. The website Politico has posted a story headlined “Justin Fever Hits Washington." In it, an anonymous senior Obama administration source says Trudeau is her "new political crush" and that “with his looks, heart, and mind, he's dreamy.”
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose is not impressed. She criticized Trudeau in question period Wednesday, saying that while he’s “sipping champagne” in Washington, Canadians will be losing their jobs.
Ambrose also demanded that the prime minister use the trip to reiterate his support for the Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama quashed in November.
Conservative MP Tony Clement, meanwhile, expressed skepticism that much will be achieved, considering that Obama is in the final year of his presidency.
Stephen Harper did not receive a state dinner during his years in office. The last Canadian prime minister given the honour was Jean Chretien, who dined with President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1997.
With files from The Canadian Press