U.S. President Joe Biden’s first call to a foreign leader will be to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this Friday, the White House has announced.
During a Wednesday evening briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the coming call.
Earlier in the day, federal officials and Canada’s Ambassador to the United States Kirsten Hillman signalled that a conversation between the two world leaders would be scheduled soon.
Hillman indicated that Trudeau will soon be looking to meet with Biden and his team, though due to the ongoing pandemic and border restrictions, what would typically be an in-person official visit will happen virtually.
“COVID will probably have a big impact on exactly how everybody gets together as it does for every single one of us, but they know we're very keen to see them soon,” Hillman said. “I think we'll let the president get through his first day in office, and we'll talk about it after that.”
One of the major points of conversation will likely be the Biden administration’s day-one revocation of the Keystone XL pipeline permit, and whether there will be ways to work across the border to make the case for a broader “buy North American” approach rather than the president’s “buy American” pledge.
“Buy American policies are not new to us. We've seen them under successive governments both Republican and Democrat. So we are used to making our case to American lawmakers and administrations as to why their economic recovery will be better and faster if they keep the borders open between Canada and the United States for trade and supply chains,” Hillman said.
In a statement, Trudeau said that while he welcomed Biden’s climate-change commitments, “we are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL."
Trudeau also issued separate remarks Wednesday, congratulating Biden and Harris while touting the “unique” relationship between the two countries. He vowed to keep working together to combat COVID-19 and eventually “build back better.”
“I look forward to working with President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, their administration, and the United States Congress as we strive to make our countries safer, more prosperous, and more resilient,” Trudeau said.
In an interview on CTV’s Power Play, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said that Canada also plans to engage on several issues early on, including the ongoing detention by China of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and the COVID-19 response and push to vaccinate millions.
“Nothing is off the table in terms of co-operation because it makes sense for two neighbours to work together when you’re dealing with something like the COVID-19 virus.”
'BRIGHT DAYS AHEAD'
Federal and provincial leaders joined Trudeau in welcoming Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris with warm wishes and optimism Wednesday, with talk of “bright days ahead” despite ongoing cross-border challenges.
“It's a joyful day today. I think that everything is different these days because of COVID and because of the challenges that we all face… but I don't think that diminishes the fact that we as Canadians should celebrate the transfer of power in a peaceful and safe way with our greatest neighbor and ally up here in the United States,” said Hillman in an interview during CTV News’ inauguration special.
“We're really looking forward to working with the Biden administration, and I think there's bright days ahead.”
Garneau said the inauguration ceremony was evidence of the “strength of American democracy,” coming just two weeks after the attack on the Capitol by former U.S. President Donald Trump’s supporters.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also offered renewed congratulations on Wednesday, saying he was looking forward to working together to “get Canadians and Americans back to work.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the swearing-in of the new, Democratic administration “marks an official end to the hate and division of the last four years, and, an opportunity to build a more inclusive and compassionate nation and world.”
Similarly, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul noted the history being made. “My mother was down in the U.S. during the March on Washington. At 84, she has now lived to see a part of MLK's dream achieved.”
Provincial leaders, MPs, and former prime minister Stephen Harper also posted messages of congratulations to the new president and for the democratic transition of power.
In an initial message to Canada, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Katherine Brucker said the U.S. embassy and consulates “remain committed to strengthening and promoting the U.S.-Canada relationship.”
“We value our countries’ extraordinary partnership and the strong ties that bind our people together. We look forward to continuing our deep collaboration with the Canadian government on issues of bilateral importance including health, our shared border, defense and security, and economic prosperity,” said Brucker in the statement.