Joe Biden will not be alone behind his screen for this virtual summit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday. Several heavyweights from his administration will be in attendance, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Janet Yellen at the Treasury, John Kerry, the President’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The presence of the Secretaries for Defense, Internal Security and Transport was also mentioned. The official list remains to be finalized.
In a special briefing given to Radio-Canada, a senior Biden administration official insisted that the exercise is not a routine peak.
The Prime Minister and the President will announce, at the end of this meeting, a
a concrete list of things to do for
invigorate the partnership between the two countries.
Post-pandemic economic recovery will be on the agenda, and among the priority issues is the development of a North American electricity sector.
Radio-Canada has learned that at the Biden-Trudeau summit, the two men will commit to working together better to become
world leaders in the development and manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles. Senior US and Canadian officials say this will be an important part of green recovery and job creation on both sides of the border.
Right now, the vast majority of the rare minerals used to make these batteries are produced in China. The United States wants to source from Canada in order to avoid depending on the Beijing regime, should economic sanctions tighten.
It must be recognized that Canada and the United States have a strong relationship in the field of energy, which must be secured, indicates an American source. On the Canadian side, we recognize that this is a
opportunity to position yourself to be an integral part of a North American supply chain.
This will allow us to ensure the future development and growth of the Canadian electricity sector., in the automotive and aerospace sector, indicates a Canadian government source.
The Liberal government had already announced its intentions in the November Speech from the Throne.
Buy American and protectionism
On the Canadian side, the recent tightening of the rules of Buy American Act by President Biden arouses fears.
This thorny issue will be on the menu of discussions.
Americans know our supply chains are interconnected, and they are responsive to our demand for an exemption from Buy American, says a Canadian source familiar with the discussions.
It is in our mutual interest, with Canada, to consult regularly and actively to avoid disruption to trade and our economic cooperation., underlined the American official.
At the summit, the two countries are expected to commit to preserving their supply chains and promoting
the North American economy, according to this same source.
Despite these good intentions, Bruce Heyman, former US ambassador to Canada under Barack Obama, recalls that the White House is prioritizing its own economy at this time.
Millions of Americans are out of work. The government’s priority is to find them work, he emphasizes.
But the former diplomat is reassuring and reminds us that the adoption of protectionist measures of this type south of the border is not new.
Historically, there have been exceptions that have affected many Canadian companies and businesses, he recalls, affecting the supply of goods and crucial services.
Michael Kergin, former Canadian Ambassador to the United States, goes in the same direction.
I think we have good cards [dans notre manche], because the economies are so integrated, he points out.
In order to rebuild our two economies and help each other recover from COVID, we will have to work together, through our infrastructure projects., says Maryscott Greenwod, CEO of the Canada-American Business Council.
The fate of the two Michael
The virtual meeting will also be an opportunity to raise the fate of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians detained in China for more than two years.
Two years too long, said senior administration official Biden.
This issue will undoubtedly be discussed between the two leaders to determine how we can work together to secure the release of the two Michael. It’s a priority for Canada, it’s a priority for us, indicated this American source.
However, former Ambassador Michael Kergin has little hope that the official bilateral meeting will help their lot in the short term. For weeks now, Joe Biden has said he does not want to interfere in the affairs of the US Department of Justice.
The possibility of political influence from the White House is going to be a little more difficult, given that the relations between the United States and China are quite complicated and the Americans have their own files to pursue with the Chinese.
Progress on vaccines?
We will announce plans tomorrow to collaborate on vaccine delivery, said the American source, who recalls that mechanisms are already in place between the two countries in terms of
information sharing and of
Tuesday’s announcement could affect the COVAX program, which aims to ensure equitable distribution and access globally.
Before we can reopen our economy, we must end COVID everywhere, said a Canadian source.
So far, Canada has been deprived of doses of vaccines produced on American soil because the United States wants to put its citizens first. Could this change? Could Canada benefit from an easing?
Considering the extent of traffic and trade between our countries, we want to ensure that Canada and Mexico recover from the pandemic. We’ll have more to say tomorrow, was content to say the senior American official.
Virtual and unusual format
Technically, it is President Biden who is the host of this meeting, even if it takes place virtually. The meeting should in principle last two hours. The first part will take place with a small group of ministers. The second part will include about ten Canadian ministers and American secretaries of state.
When the summit is over, the two heads of state will make a joint public statement, but will not answer journalists’ questions.
The mere fact that this meeting is the first of its kind for the Biden administration since he was sworn in is
very symbolic, notes Raymond Chrétien, former Canadian ambassador to Washington. Especially, he adds, that the head-to-head is not exclusively between Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau, but with a good part of their team.
It is important that these links between ministers and secretaries are forged quickly. The good understanding facilitates future discussions and this has repercussions on the other levels within the two governments.
This is a very good sign that we are on the same wavelength in several cases, like the pandemic, climate change, the fight against racial inequalities, says a Canadian source, and this will be reflected in the announcements following the meeting.
Former US Ambassador Bruce Heyman says it’s a new chapter that begins and where the Trudeau government will find its way
trust, honesty, integrity, shared values and a government more aligned with Canada, he believes.
#Washington #reinvigorate #CanadaUS #relationship