- The US. President Joe Biden has arrived in Ottawa for his first official visit to Canada since winning the presidency more than two years ago.
- The visit is an opportunity for the two countries to cut some deals and discuss various issues, including the war in Ukraine, the deteriorating situation in Haiti, and irregular migration.
- Other events planned for the trip include Biden’s address to Parliament, a series of meetings with high-level Canadian officials, and a spousal program for the Bidens.
On March 23, 2023, US President Joe Biden arrived in Ottawa, Canada, for his first official visit to Canada since his election in 2020. This visit presents an opportunity for the US-Canada relationship to mend and move forward. The two-day visit started with a meeting with the King’s representative in Canada, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, who greeted the president upon his arrival at MacDonald-Cartier International Airport in Ottawa. The first day included a series of meetings with Canadian officials, and the second day was scheduled for President Biden’s address to Parliament.
Biden’s previous policies and remarks have not always been positive for Canada. However, the visit provides an opportunity to start anew, mend the relationship, and potentially “cut some deals.”
Meeting with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon
After his arrival, Biden had a brief conversation with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and her husband, Whit Fraser, about the devastation caused by recent forest fires in the American West. Simon told Biden about how climate change has affected her home region, the Arctic. The two also discussed reconciliation, the war in Ukraine, and the ongoing crisis in Haiti.
In a statement from Simon’s office, she emphasized the importance of the US-Canada relationship, calling it a “relationship of trust, support, and resilience.”
“This visit is about taking stock of where we are, what we’ve done, and what we need to prioritize,” Kirby told a Wednesday briefing with reporters ahead of the trip.
“We’re going to talk about our two democracies stepping up to meet the challenges of our time. That includes taking concrete steps to increase defense spending, driving a global race to the top on clean energy, and building prosperous and inclusive economies.”
Biden’s Meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Following his arrival, Biden and his wife, Jill, traveled to Rideau Cottage, the prime minister’s residence. They had an “intimate gathering” away from the cameras and officials, where they discussed the weather and posed for photos on the steps of Rideau Cottage.
Other events planned for the trip include President Biden’s address to Parliament, a series of meetings with Trudeau and other high-level Canadian officials, and a “pull aside” at some point with Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.
The first lady is also on hand for the visit, and a “spousal program” is planned, including a stop at the National Art Gallery for an exhibit of Canadian female artists and a visit to the city’s Rideau Curling Club for Jill Biden to learn how to curl.
Comparison to George W. Bush’s Visit in 2004
The plan for Biden’s visit is quite different from George W. Bush’s visit in 2004, which happened just months after the US invaded Iraq. Biden’s visit aims to mend the relationship with Canada, which has been strained due to previous policies and remarks by Biden.
The two leaders are set to discuss the ongoing war in Ukraine, the deteriorating situation in Haiti, the state of Canada’s military at a time of rising global threats, the Safe Third Country Agreement, and the influx of refugees at Quebec’s Roxham Road crossing.
Deal with the United States on Irregular Migration
CBC/Radio-Canada and other media outlets reported Thursday that the Trudeau government had reached a long-discussed deal with the United States on irregular migration, which would allow Ottawa to close the Roxham Road irregular crossing at the Canada-U.S. border.
Economy on top of agenda as Biden makes first visit to Canada as President
If Ottawa cannot compete for the dollar with U.S. subsidies in the Inflation Reduction Act, it has to do so deal by deal, says CEO of the Canadian American Business Council Maryscott Greenwood.
Greenwood said the president’s visit is “quite significant” for bilateral relations.
While the two men have met on the sidelines of some summits, there’s nothing like a face-to-face on Canadian soil, she said.
“It causes the entire bureaucracy of the U.S. to basically stop whatever it’s doing and focus on Canada. That’s a positive,” she said.
President Biden’s visit to Canada presents an opportunity to mend and move forward the US-Canada relationship, which has been strained due to previous policies and remarks by Biden. The visit includes meetings with Canadian officials, discussions about pressing global concerns, and an opportunity for the first lady to build on her friendship with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.