Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle

Biden/Trudeau summit to avoid some Canadian priorities?

U.S. summit ‘road map’ focuses on mutual interests, steers clear of Canadian potholes

The White House did not acknowledge Canada’s own wish list for President Joe Biden’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, focusing instead Tuesday on areas of “shared vision” and “mutual concern.”

The U.S. administration’s “road map” for enhanced co-operation between the two countries lays out priorities for Biden’s first bilateral meeting as president — a route that steers well clear of potential potholes.

“The road map is a blueprint for our whole-of-government relationship, based on our shared values and commitment to work in partnership on areas of mutual concern,” the White House said.

It lays out six priority areas, including battling the pandemic, rebuilding the economy “on both sides of the border,” and a “high-level climate ministerial” meeting to align efforts to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

RELATED: Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

RELATED: A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

It also mentions social diversity and inclusion, expanded co-operation on continental defence and a modernized NORAD, and restoring a collective commitment to global institutions like NATO and the World Trade Organization.

The section on “Building Back Better” — a turn of phrase from Biden’s presidential campaign that’s also popular with the Trudeau government — pays tribute to Liberal election rhetoric as well, promising a vision “that strengthens the middle class and creates more opportunities for hard-working people to join it.”

A number of Canada’s explicit priorities, including access to COVID-19 vaccines, freeing Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig from China or securing an exemption to Buy American, are conspicuously absent.

So too is any mention of Keystone XL, the on-again, off-again cross-border pipeline expansion Biden cancelled with the stroke of his presidential pen on his first day in office.

Experts want Ottawa to push the U.S. hard to exempt Canada from Buy American, Biden’s suite of protectionist measures to ensure infrastructure spending prioritizes American businesses.

No immediate changes to that regime are on the horizon, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

“He signed an executive order; we’re of course evaluating procurement components of that, but no changes anticipated.”

Trudeau is nonetheless expected to ask for fewer restrictions on U.S. vaccine exports, since Canada has been squeezed by production problems in Europe, and for more help in bringing Spavor and Kovrig home.

They were detained in an apparent act of retaliation after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in December 2018 on U.S. charges of violating sanctions on Iran.

On the two Michaels, Psaki would only say, “The prime minister will bring up whatever he would like to bring up, as is true of any bilateral meeting.”

The White House also says the two plan to resurrect the North American Leaders’ Summit — a trilateral meeting of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, more commonly known as the “Three Amigos” summit, which hasn’t been convened since 2016.

Eric Miller, a Canada-U. S. expert and president of the D.C.-based Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, said the synchronicity between the two leaders is why Trudeau needs to seize the moment.

“To me, this is exactly the moment for Canada to go on offence,” Miller said.

The Biden administration and the Trudeau government have aligned interests on climate change, a multilateral foreign policy and on a new approach to China, he said.

And Biden, an outspoken champion of unions, needs to be careful not to run afoul of organized labour groups with large memberships on opposite sides of the border.

“If I were Canada, I’d be pitching very strongly for a Buy American agreement — I mean, the worst they can say is no,” Miller said.

Blue-collar workers in Canada “are pretty much exactly the same as their U.S. counterparts. Why are you going to hit them with restrictions when it’s like hitting your cousin?”

Maryscott Greenwood, the chief executive officer of the Canadian American Business Council, said the Prime Minister’s Office would do well to imagine Donald Trump is still in the White House.

“Canada embarked on a very, very forward-leaning, activist agenda about engaging the U.S., inside and outside of D.C.” when Trump was in office, she said.

“It’s going to be important to have that level of urgency and that level of effort, and not just assume that everything’s good now that Biden’s here.”

That was made clear when Keystone XL was promptly cancelled last month, said Bill Reilly, who led the Environmental Protection Agency from 1989 to 1993 under former president George Bush.

Canada is “very likely to be raising issues that run counter to some of the environmental aspirations that animate the Biden administration,” Reilly told a panel discussion Monday hosted by the American Council for Capital Formation.

“I don’t think some of these issues are going to lend themselves to easy resolution.”

— James McCarten, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Debra Lynn photo
Mysterious smoke cloud seen in Seavac Centre

Fire crews did a thorough sweep of the centre.

North Island Gazette file photo of Port McNeill council.
Heated conversation occurs at Port McNeill council over policy request

Port McNeill mayor Gaby Wickstrom wants to see a change in the… Continue reading

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
The Port Alice pulp mill site is being ‘recycled’

Bankruptcy company is overseeing de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring.

Port Hardy Senior Citizens’ Society president Rosaline Glynn holds up the certificate from B.C. Premier John Horgan next to Loaves & Fishes director Peter Sinclair, vice president Kris Huddlestan, and Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas. (Submitted photo)
Port Hardy council to nominate Glynn for the Order of British Columbia

Glynn’s nomination was endorsed unanimously by council.

Emergency personnel crews on scene assisting BCEHS with patient care. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Speed and alcohol believed to be the cause of Saturday night car crash

More information on the crash could potentially be released at a later date.

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ in Metchosin

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read