Biden, Trudeau mount show of unity as allies paper over tensions
Published in News & Features
President Joe Biden, who longs for the appearance of political harmony, found it in Canada — where he was feted with displays of cross-border unity that glossed over lingering disputes.
Biden’s whirlwind trip to Ottawa, the first one-on-one visit by a U.S. president since 2009, was a show of solidarity. Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced deals to tighten border rules and for investments in semiconductor manufacturing.
“Americans and Canadians are two people, two countries, in my view, sharing one heart,” Biden said in an address to Parliament. “No two nations on Earth are bound by such close ties.”
Yet many tensions between the nations were downplayed or not discussed, including a sunset clause in a continental trade pact and Biden’s contentious Buy American policies.
The trip had been long sought. Canada was once a customary first stop for presidents, but Biden’s visit comes in his third year in office.
The White House opted for only an overnight trip to Ottawa. Officials cited time constraints to the Canadians as they declined options for other stops, like Quebec, where concerns over migrants would have made Biden a lightning rod.
Canada took pains to make the visit a success — even, temporarily moving a Nazi warplane from the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum’s collection to avoid any embarrassing photos from the gala dinner held there Friday.
American and Canadian flags lined the street in front of Biden’s hotel and Parliament. The Bidens arrived Thursday night and were hosted by Trudeau, his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and their children. Biden gave Trudeau’s wife a hug and peck on the cheek, and Trudeau gave first lady Jill Biden a kiss on both cheeks. They shared “friend-chip” ice cream.
But at the same time, at a restaurant a block from Parliament, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan held a private dinner with Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, and Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.
Their talks included an impasse over Haiti, where Canada has resisted U.S. pressure to lead an international mission to stabilize the beleaguered Caribbean nation. Biden’s visit included an announcement of Canadian funding but no mission, and both leaders indicated they were no longer discussing one.
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