President Joe Biden on Friday emphasized the United States and Canada’s close relationship in tackling global issues such as climate change, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, recent immigration challenges and fentanyl trafficking along the U.S. borders.
“Nothing is beyond our capacity,” Biden said in his remarks to Canada’s Parliament. “Canada and the United States can do big things… We’re going to write the future together.”
Biden’s remarks, which follow a long tradition of U.S. presidents who have addressed the Parliament during visits to Canada, came after he met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau, in his own remarks, stressed that Canada will work with the United States to address climate policy, security policy and economic policy — saying all three are linked together.
- What was discussed: Biden and Trudeau in a bilateral meeting discuss defense spending, clean energy and climate change, how Canada can assist in Haiti and Ukraine, and migration throughout North America.
- Biden’s arrival: Biden arrived in Canada Thursday evening and was greeted at Ottawa International Airport by Mary Simon, governor general of Canada, and her husband, Whit Fraser.
Increase defense spending to address Russia, Ukraine and China
Amid global challenges from Russia’s war with Ukraine to China’s increasing threats to Taiwan, Biden and Trudeau said the United States and Canada will work together to address the threats.
Defense spending, as well as commitments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), were among the policies discussed during Biden and Trudeau’s bilateral meeting.
After the meeting, Canada announced new investments to invest in defense and security with the United States. The announcements include:
- Canada will invest $6.96 billion in surveillance system modernization that will enhance early warning for objects approaching North America.
- $7.3 billion in investments in the northern forward operating locations prior to the arrival of a F-35 aircraft, which include airfield improvements to accommodate aircraft personnel, fuel, and munitions. In a joint statement, Biden and Trudeau said the improvements “ensure NORAD’s ability to deter and defend against emerging threats to our air and sea space and compete with China and Russia for years to come.”
Immigration problems at the U.S. northern border
Migration challenges are hitting the border – the northern border, that is.
There has been a spike in recent months of migrants crossing between Canada and the United States without authorization along the border near New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. The increased number of migrants has caused challenges for local officials in those states and in Canada.
As a result, the United States and Canada have come to an agreement to revise the Canada-United States Safe Third Country Agreement. The agreement will now apply to asylum seekers who cross between ports of entry.
In a joint statement, Biden and Trudeau said they anticipate it “will deter irregular migration at our shared border.”
The new revision to the treaty will go into effect at midnight, Trudeau said.
”Our teams have worked hard to achieve this agreement,” the prime minister said during a press conference with Biden. “All of the work will make it possible to deter irregular migration at the borders.”
Canada also agreed to accept an additional 15,000 migrants on a humanitarian basis from the Western Hemisphere over the course of the year.
Biden also noted that the two nations are working together to address fentanyl trafficking in North America, announcing the launch of a global fentanyl task force.
Kirby said “without question” the two leaders will be discussing the issue of migration.
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Help for Haiti?
While Haiti was a top issue discussed by the two leaders, Canada did not budge on sending a peacekeeping force to the country.
As armed gangs have taken over Haiti, causing instability, the United States has wanted Canada to send a peacekeeping force to the country. But Trudeau has expressed reservations over sending peacekeepers to help the Haitian police forces.
The subject was briefly referenced in Biden’s speech to parliament, saying the U.S. and Canada are working with the Haitian government to “help strengthen stability.”
In a joint statement, Biden and Trudeau said the U.S. and Canada “remain concerned about deteriorating security in Haiti, committed to increasing international support for the Haitian people, including through security and humanitarian assistance, enhanced support for the Haitian National Police, and by holding accountable those who undermine Haiti’s stability.”
Trudeau at a press conference with Biden said that Canada pledges $100 million to help the police force in Haiti. He added that Canada is “determined to increase international support for Haiti.”
Biden declined to say whether he was disappointed that Canada did not agree to pledge to send a peacekeeping force to Haiti. He noted that it’s a “very, very difficult circumstance,” and that it makes sense right now to increase the capabilities of the Haitian police force even if “it’s going to take a little bit of time.”
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_