Biden-Trudeau talks on Tuesday seek to ease strained relations

U.S. President Joe Biden Image: Flickr

President Joe Biden will seek to repair relations with Canada that have been strained by disputes over trade and an oil pipeline as he meets virtually with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday.

The two leaders plan to unveil a road map on how to improve cooperation on a range of topics, from global alliances to the coronavirus, according to a senior U.S. official, who requested anonymity to preview the meeting.

As part of that effort, Biden and Trudeau will announce a forthcoming ministerial meeting on climate and the resumption of the Cross-Border Crime Forum, an annual gathering of top law enforcement officials from each country to examine ways to collaborate on counterterrorism and efforts to combat smuggling, and organized crime.

There are also plans for additional announcements related to Canada coming this week from the U.S State Department and Department of Transportation according to the official, who didn’t discuss the substance of those plans.

The meeting, set for late afternoon, comes at a time when Canadians have become increasingly uncertain about where they stand with their closest ally. After four years of bruising trade battles with Donald Trump, the Biden administration already has cancelled a permit for TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline and threatened new “Buy American” provisions for government procurement contracts.

But the White House is hoping to improve the tenor of relations with a coronavirus-era variation of the longstanding tradition of the U.S. president making his first foreign trip to Canada.

Jobs, climate change

Trudeau tweeted that the conversation would “focus on ending the pandemic, growing the middle class and creating jobs, and fighting climate change.”

Relations between the U.S. and Canada are expected to improve under the Biden administration, with the new American president more closely aligned with Trudeau’s Liberals across a series of policy initiatives. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday she expected Biden to “highlight the strong and deep partnership between the United States and Canada as neighbors, friends, and NATO allies.”

Still, some areas of discussion could prove thornier. Biden revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline – linking oil-rich Alberta to Nebraska – on his first day in office, saying the project isn’t “consistent with my administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”

Trudeau has called the project – which would have shipped more than 800,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta’s oil sands to U.S. refineries – a key priority, and voiced his concern over the cancellation in a telephone call with Biden last month. The Canadian Parliament last week agreed to establish a committee to study the economic relationship between the two countries. And Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has called for retaliatory economic sanctions on the U.S. over Biden’s move, though that effort has gained little traction.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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