Island nations facing 'triple crisis,' Barbados PM says before meeting Trudeau

The prime minister of Barbados is pleading the case of smaller island nations that are struggling to deal with a "triple crisis" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Climate change, defending democracy and gender equality on Trudeau's agenda for first day of summit

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau arrive in Los Angeles, California on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Prime Minister Trudeau will spend the week in Los Angeles, where President Joe Biden is hosting leaders from across the hemisphere for the Summit of the Americas. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The prime minister of Barbados is pleading the case of smaller island nations that are struggling to deal with a "triple crisis" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mia Mottley said Barbados is dealing with the real-world impacts of climate change at the same time as COVID-19 and rising fuel and food prices.

Mottley made the comments prior to a bilateral meeting in Los Angeles with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

She said she's looking forward to working on sustainable development goals with Canada and thanked Trudeau for the role Canada has played in the growth of her country.

Mottley said she wants to be sure the world sees island nations during this week's Summit of the Americas and recognizes the trouble they are in.

Trudeau acknowledged that the pandemic set the world back significantly in its efforts to help developing nations reach their economic and social goals.

"It's a triple crisis that we faced in the last few years," Mottley said during a photo opportunity with Trudeau before the meeting.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley speaks during the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021. In a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mottley said Barbados is dealing with real-world impacts of climate change at the same time as COVID-19 and rising fuel and food prices. (Jeff J Mitchell/Reuters)

She cited the "existential crisis" of climate change, COVID-19 and the soaring cost of fuel and food, triggered by the pandemic but now worsened by the war in Ukraine.

Mottley also mentioned the escalating problem of antimicrobial resistance in her part of the world, which renders some life-saving medications and treatments ineffective and kills 1.2 million people every year.

"Bob Marley would say, 'So much trouble in the world,"' Mottley said.

"We don't expect things to change immediately. But what we expect is fairness, what we expect is transparency. What we expect is that just as we want to see people here, we want people to see, feel and hear us as well."

Trudeau was scheduled to attend a roundtable later Wednesday with a group of Latin American and Caribbean leaders to discuss climate change, defending democratic values and promoting gender equality.

He also met with Shilpan Amin, the president of General Motors International, about electric vehicles, the hemisphere's climate goals and efforts to energize economic growth.

In Ottawa, Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne said it would serve the people of the hemisphere well for countries to do more together to enhance economic integration and export opportunities.

"I think that this is an economic zone where Canada can play a leading role with the Caribbean, with Central America, with South America," Champagne said on his way into a caucus meeting.

Canada, U.S. agree on NORAD upgrades

The meetings mark a whipsaw pivot for Trudeau, who spent Tuesday afternoon in the rarefied air of the Rocky Mountains for meetings with military officials in Colorado.

He and Defence Minister Anita Anand toured the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, the fortified command centre that houses part of NORAD, the joint-command continental defence system.

Both countries agree NORAD — the only binational defence system of its kind in the world — is badly in need of upgrades if it is to counter the modern-day threats posed by potential aggressors like Russia and China.

But neither Trudeau nor Anand offered any clues to what sort of timeline might be involved.

Anand would only say "a number of initiatives" are on the table and that a modernization plan would be forthcoming "shortly" — a message she's been delivering for months.

WATCH Trudeau addresses reporters at Summit of the Americas

Trudeau addresses reporters at Summit of the Americas

2 months ago
Duration 1:34
Summit of the Americas discussions will be about defense and modernizing NORAD, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the first day.

Trudeau and Anand, flanked by NORAD's U.S. and Canadian commanders, met with U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in a boardroom festooned with images of fighter jets and military insignia.

"I get up every single day, as do all of our other members, knowing that we have the most noble mission on the planet, and that's defending our homeland," said U.S. Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, the current joint commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command.

The Canadian delegation later visited a granite-encased, concrete-walled NORAD command fortress that seemed more like the lair of a James Bond villain than a military base.

VanHerck presented Trudeau with a hunk of the mountainous rock that surrounds the base, mounted on a platform and adorned with two of the commander's challenge coins.

"Very impressive," Trudeau said as officials demonstrated the facility's imposing blast door — a metre-thick, 20-tonne hydraulic behemoth fortified with 22 thick steel rods that slide shut to ensure an impermeable seal.

Afterward, the prime minister held up the shared responsibilities of NORAD as a perfect illustration of the unique Canada-U.S. relationship.

"We're seeing a time where the world is shifting rapidly," Trudeau said — a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression in Ukraine, as well as the prospect of hypersonic long-range weapons being developed in Russia and China.

"Whether it's new threats, new technologies, or shifting geopolitical realities, it becomes all the more important for friends and allies like Canada and the United States to continue working so closely together."


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