Trudeau invites Obama to Canada, thanks him for leadership on climate change
Prime minister met with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill ahead of state dinner
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama wrapped up their talks a bit early today, emerging from the White House to tell reporters that Obama has been invited to address Canada's Parliament later this year.
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The two leaders held a joint press conference, where they addressed questions ranging from Donald Trump's ascendancy in the Republican Party, to streamlining trade and movement across the border, to the still-unresolved softwood lumber dispute.
The morning's events at the White House were part of a packed schedule leading up to a glamorous night ahead in Washington, when the two will don tuxes and enjoy a lavish dinner at the White House.
The first official visit for a Canadian prime minister in 19 years comes as Trudeau is just months into his mandate, while Obama is winding his down.
Obama's final visit to Canada could coincide with the North American leaders summit (also called the Three Amigos) Canadians will host this summer.
Thursday began with a joint statement on climate change that includes a new science partnership on the Arctic, part of work under the United States' chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Trudeau thanked Obama for his leadership to date on the climate change file.
"The president and I share a common goal: We want a clean growth economy that continues to provide good jobs and great opportunities for all of our citizens," Trudeau said.
But the broad range of issues mentioned in the leaders' remarks — from continental collaboration to fight the Zika virus to Obama's praise for Canada's efforts on Syrian refugees — conveyed much more common ground.
How to follow Trudeau's Washington visit
Tonight: The Obamas host the Trudeaus for a state dinner at 7 p.m. ET.
Friday: Trudeau lays wreath at Arlington National Cemetery at 9:30 a.m.; takes part in Q&A at American University at 10:30 a.m. and speaks at a Canada2020 event at 12 p.m. ET
CBC News Network's Power & Politics with Rosemary Barton is broadcasting live from Washington at 5 p.m. ET on CBC News Network. CBC's The National with Peter Mansbridge will also be live from Washington on CBC-TV and CBC News Network at 9 p.m. ET. And listen to CBC Radio's The House with host Chris Hall on Saturday at 9 a.m. — or subscribe to The House midweek podcast for a preview.
New border, no-fly list collaboration
As CBC News reported Wednesday, Canada and the U.S. have agreed to make it easier for travellers between Canada and the U.S. by setting up customs pre-clearance in more locations.
An American statement said Canada has "assured" the U.S. it will complete the last phase of much-delayed entry-exit information system, building on what's already in place for third-country nationals. Obama told reporters this system will protect the privacy and civil liberties of citizens.
Obama also said the two countries will share more information for their respective no-fly lists. Trudeau said a working group will be created in the next 60 days to resolve identity errors on these lists and make it easier to be removed.
But their remarks were also light-hearted at times, with Obama joking about Americans being tempted to move to Canada if they don't like the results of the next U.S. election.
"From my perspective, what's not to like?" Obama said of Trudeau's leadership since taking office, saying their shared positive outlook makes him a good partner.
Trudeau's new government, Obama said, brings "the right values, enormous energy, enormous commitment and passion to their work and perhaps most importantly, it's clear that they are keenly interested in engaging Canadian citizens in the process of solving problems. And I think that is how democracies are supposed to work."
Americans 'excited' about visit
The warm tone for the day began as soon as prime minister arrived at the White House with his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, on Thursday morning. Camera shutters clicked wildly as the Obamas guided the Trudeaus down a receiving line of senior officials and cabinet ministers.
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A military band performed both national anthems. Both leaders waded into the admiring crowd assembled to watch the pageantry.
"We haven't always conveyed how much we treasure our alliance," Obama said in his opening remarks, emphasizing the two countries shared values, and taking the opportunity to promote ways his government had moved toward change, such as introducing publicly funded health care and same-sex marriage.
"I've never seen so many Americans excited about the visit of a Canadian prime minister," Obama said, calling this a special day for Canadians who work in America and "enrich our lives every day."
Trudeau pointed out their countries "grew up together" and the relationship between them has always been vital.
"We bring out best in one another," he said.
The president joked about the warm weather being much nicer than his first visit to Ottawa, in February 2008. Both leaders got in a few digs about hockey. Obama pointed out that the Stanley Cup is in his hometown of Chicago, where the Blackhawks are based.
"Don't get me started," Trudeau was heard saying off-microphone.
When the leaders emerged later that morning, Obama said they still couldn't agree on hockey, "but it was not interfering with the rest of our bilateral relationship."
Trudeau joked that he also couldn't bring back his "beloved" Montreal Expos baseball team from Washington.
While the two leaders meet in the Oval Office, Grégoire-Trudeau and Michelle Obama attended an event related to Obama's Let Girls Learn initiative.
Arrived last night
The Trudeau family arrived in the U.S. capital early Wednesday evening. The first official event was a reception at the Renwick Gallery, across the street from the White House.
The event, hosted by the think-tank Canada 2020, was a hot ticket. Organizers were flooded with requests to be put on the guest list. Invitees included Toronto-born musician The Weeknd, present and former ambassadors from both countries and Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice.
"It becomes easy to be fearful," Trudeau told the crowd. "It becomes easy to turn in on ourselves. But we know from history that it's much more important to turn outwards. And to draw out the best of each other. And to understand that whenever people get together regardless of how different they may seem, there are always more things that we have in common."
Climate, Arctic statement starts day
Earlier Thursday morning, a joint statement released by the White House set the tone for the talks on climate change.
The agreement sets out firm numbers for methane emissions reductions — setting a goal of reducing them by 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025. This brings Canada in line with the U.S. and mirrors moves made by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley's government last November ahead of the UN climate summit in Paris.
The statement made one reference to black carbon — something that had been expected to play more prominently in the talks.
The agreement builds on Trudeau's talks with the premiers last week in Vancouver, committing both countries to work with subnational governments "to support robust implementation of the carbon markets-related provisions of the Paris Agreement," while ensuring the "environmental integrity" of those carbon market systems, "encouraging sub-national governments to share lessons learned about the design of effective carbon pricing systems and supportive policies and measures."
There was also a section on making the aviation industry more carbon-neutral.
'Some progress' on softwood lumber
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo, the MP for Nunavut, are on the trip with Trudeau, along with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, who are all meeting with their Washington counterparts.
Freeland's file — the ongoing softwood lumber trade dispute — was expected to be raised at every opportunity.
White House officials said they welcomed Canada's interest but the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal was at the top of their list of trade issues.
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A Canadian release said that the two sides have agreed to explore all options and report back within 100 days.
Obama told reporters that officials were already making some progress and the issue would be resolved "in some fashion," adding that the eventual solution would be "undoubtedly to the dissatisfaction of all concerned.
"It hardly defines the nature of the relationship," Obama said.
From the White House, Trudeau travelled on to the state department, where Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a special lunch in his honour. In the afternoon, the prime minister met with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill.
The day concludes with a state dinner being thrown in Trudeau's honour at the White House.
With files from Meagan Fitzpatrick