Calling for closer Canada-U.S. ties, Biden says 'our destinies are intertwined and they're inseparable'
Biden is travelling with a high-powered entourage of officials and advisers
U.S. President Joe Biden delivered an impassioned speech in the House of Commons Friday, saying the Canada-U.S. relationship has never been stronger while calling for even closer ties to take on the challenges of our times.
Standing in front of the Speaker's chair as hundreds of MPs, senators and dignitaries looked on, Biden said Canadians and Americans are "two people" that "share one heart" — bound together not only by geography and history but shared democratic values.
In his nearly 40-minute speech, Biden said that, together, the two countries are an unstoppable force that can tackle climate change, a changing economy and an increasingly dangerous world, where authoritarian countries like Russia are bent on defying international norms.
The partnership, he said, extends to space — three Americans and a Canadian will soon be headed for the moon as part of the NASA Artemis program.
"Our destinies are intertwined and they're inseparable," Biden said.
"I mean this from the bottom of my heart. There is no more reliable ally, no more steady friend. And today I say to you, you will always be able to count on the United States of America."
WATCH: We will find 'no more steady friend' than Canada: Biden
Together, Biden said, Canada and the U.S. will confront the "scourge" of opioid overdoses.
He vowed to partner with Mexico to tackle the illicit trade in fentanyl, which has wreaked havoc on vulnerable communities throughout North America.
Trudeau, Biden reach agreements during two-day visit
- Canada and the U.S. will expand the Safe Third Country Agreement to the entire land border — a move designed to halt illegal border crossing by migrants. Canada will instead accept up to 15,000 migrants from the Western Hemisphere through legal channels.
- Canada will invest $420 million to protect the Great Lakes as part of a binational effort to defend one of the world's largest sources of freshwater.
- Canada made a $7.3 billion commitment to air defence to support the continued functioning of NORAD.
- Canada agreed to provide $100 million to support the Haitian police.
- The U.S. will commit roughly $250 million to Canadian and U.S. companies that mine and process critical minerals for electric vehicles and stationary storage batteries.
- Canada and New York-based IBM signed a deal to expand domestic research and development and advanced packaging of semiconductors.
- Biden expressed support for Canada joining the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework
Referencing a deal on migrants, Biden said Canada and the U.S. will safely resettle asylum seekers through a new, more organized process that discourages illegal immigration.
"We believe to our core that every single person deserves to live in dignity, safety and rise as high as their dreams can carry them," Biden said.
On semiconductors, critical minerals, advanced manufacturing and a pivot to a cleaner, greener economy, Biden said Canada and the U.S. are up to the challenge — ready to work in concert to challenge the dominance of countries like China in these areas.
"After two years of COVID, people began to even wonder, 'Can we still do big things?' I say we sure in hell can," Biden said to thunderous applause from the assembled crowd.
While there are irritants in any relationship, Biden said, Canada and the U.S. are determined to "solve our differences in friendship and with good will, because we both understand our interests are fundamentally aligned."
WATCH: 'I like your teams, except the Leafs': Biden addresses Parliament
Biden joked about the Toronto Maple Leafs ("I like your teams, except the Leafs," he said to laughter and scattered boos from the crowd) and razzed some MPs who failed to stand and applaud after he praised Canada and the U.S. for having gender equal cabinets.
"Even if you don't agree guys, I'd stand up," he said.
He also raised a recent Gallup poll that found Americans have an overwhelmingly positive view of Canadians.
The poll found 88 per cent of U.S. respondents think highly of their neighbours to the north — up from 87 per cent last year. "I take credit for that one point," Biden said.
In his introductory speech, Trudeau hit many of the same points. He called on Canadians and Americans to come together as storm clouds gather in other parts of the world.
"It has never been clearer that everything is interwoven," he said. "Economic policy is climate policy is security policy. People need us to think strategically and act with urgency, and that is exactly what brings us together today."
WATCH: U.S.-Canada border is a 'meeting place rather than dividing line': Trudeau
As conflict rages in Europe and inflation bears down on working people, Trudeau said the two countries have faced all of this before.
Citing a 1987 address by former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, who called the Canada-U.S. border a "meeting place rather than a dividing line," Trudeau said the border is "not just a place where we meet each other. It's a place where we will meet the moment."
Touting recent investments in a Michelin tire plant in Nova Scotia, and plans to retool the Defasco steel factory in Hamilton, Ont., Trudeau said Canada is ready to work with the U.S. to take on economic competition from "an increasingly assertive China."
"We must continue to show resilience, perseverance and strength," Trudeau said, citing the example of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the two Canadians who suffered arbitrary detention in China for more than 1,000 days.
Kovrig and Spavor were on hand in the Commons for Friday's events. Trudeau thanked Biden for his help in securing their release.
With two of its citizens in captivity, Trudeau said, Canada did "not capitulate, we did not abandon our values — we doubled down. We rallied our allies. The rule of law prevailed and the Michaels came home."
"God bless ya," Biden said as he recognized Spavor and Kovrig in the gallery above.
Earlier today, Biden was escorted by Trudeau into the West Block where he briefly greeted dignitaries, including Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, other party leaders, senators, the House of Commons Speaker and parliamentary clerks.
Poilievre introduced himself as the leader of his "His Majesty's Loyal Opposition," which prompted Biden to quip, "Loyal, huh?"
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May then handed a bemused Biden a chocolate bar made by a Syrian refugee before he was whisked away for a one-on-one meeting with Trudeau.
The busy day followed an intimate gathering last night at Trudeau's Ottawa home, Rideau Cottage. Trudeau, with his wife Sophie and their three kids, hosted the president and his wife, Jill.
This is the first non-summit overnight visit by a U.S. president in nearly two decades.
It was billed as a chance for Biden and Trudeau to continue their efforts to renew the bilateral relationship, which was marked by some tension in recent years.
The Trump years were a trying time for Canadian officials.
But Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, promote protectionist policies like Buy American and withhold some vaccine supplies were also irritants in the early days of his presidency.
Since then, there's been meaningful progress on key files: a deal to protect the NEXUS trusted traveller program and a plan to include Canadian-made vehicles in a U.S. electric vehicle tax credit program.
WATCH: U.S. and Canada reach deal on closing Roxham Road border crossing:
And now there is a deal in hand that will allow Canada to close the Roxham Road site, where tens of thousands of refugee claimants have crossed the border irregularly in recent years — a political headache for Trudeau.
The U.S. has been eager to see Canada take a leadership role in efforts to restore order in Haiti, which has descended into chaos in recent months as gangs have tightened their grip on some parts of the Caribbean country.
So far, Canada has resisted pressure to deploy troops.
But after meeting with Biden, Trudeau commited roughly $100 million to the Haitian police.
The funding comes after the UN expressed grave concern for Haiti, saying "extreme violence continues to spiral out of control."
Biden and Trudeau also had the economy on their minds during the visit.
Biden's Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — which was really a climate-change bill, despite its name — includes major tax breaks for companies that pursue green-friendly projects.
Canada is racing to compete — and there may be a role for Canadian businesses to play as the U.S. retools its economy to make it cleaner and greener.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference following his address, Biden said the IRA shouldn't be seen as a threat to Canada.
He said the U.S. plan to spend billions through the IRA and CHIPS Act, which offers tax breaks to semiconductor companies that manufacture in the U.S., will have spillover effects for Canada.
"We each have what the other needs," Biden said. "I'm a little confused on why this is a disadvantage for Canada."
He said U.S. businesses need to tap Canada's abundance of critical minerals — an industry that currently is dominated by China, an increasingly unreliable business partner.
"We don't have the minerals to mine, you can mine them. You don't want to produce, I mean, turn them into product," Biden said.
WATCH: Biden, Trudeau speak to media in Ottawa
Canada would dispute Biden's characterization of the critical minerals file.
The federal government has raced to sign multi-billion dollar contracts with major car companies like Stellantis and Volkswagen, which will use Canadian natural resources to manufacture components for electric vehicles.
The economist Harold Innis once described Canadians as "hewers of wood and drawers of water," a reference to Canada's long economic dependence on resources.
Trudeau said Friday Canada doesn't just extract minerals and ship them off.
"The world is understanding they can no longer rely on places like China or Russia," he said. "They can rely on Canada to not just be a purveyor of ores, but of finished materials."
WATCH: When U.S. presidents came to Parliament
The Biden trip comes just after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited with another authoritarian leader in Moscow — Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While China cozies up to Russia, Biden framed his trip as a way to bolster relations with a close ally and friend, a democratic Canada.