Canada, France prom­ise ac­tion

Coun­tries pledge to dou­ble down on cli­mate-change fight amid U.S. in­ac­tion


OT­TAWA — Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, long billed as kin­dred po­lit­i­cal spir­its, agreed Mon­day to a fresh, for­ti­fied at­tack on cli­mate change — hop­ing to keep a shared pri­or­ity at the fore­front of the global agenda de­spite U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion to quit the bat­tle­field.

En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna was on hand to sign the new France-Canada part­ner­ship on cli­mate and en­vi­ron­ment in a cer­e­mony at the French pres­i­den­tial palace dur­ing the first day of Trudeau’s of­fi­cial visit to Paris.

“France and Canada to­day pledge to re­dou­ble their ef­forts and in­crease their co-oper­a­tion,” Trudeau said in French dur­ing a news con­fer­ence with Macron fol­low­ing the cer­e­mony.

“This ini­tia­tive will en­cour­age and ac­cel­er­ate the achieve­ment of the Paris Agree­ment tar­gets through con­crete mea­sures to make this agree­ment in prin­ci­ple a re­al­ity.”

The part­ner­ship comes as Macron has taken it upon him­self to per­son­ally cham­pion the Paris deal since Trump made good on his threat to with­draw from the cli­mate ac­cord last year.

The France-Canada part­ner­ship, which in­cludes push­ing for a global price on car­bon and re­duc­tions to trans­port-re­lated emis­sions, also falls squarely in line with Trudeau’s gov­ern­ment pri­or­i­ties for the G7 in Que­bec this June.

And with France hav­ing the G7 pres­i­dency in 2019, se­nior Cana­dian of­fi­cials said, the hope is that the ex­clu­sive group of na­tions will con­tinue work­ing to­ward the goals laid out by the Paris Agree­ment, with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity fol­low­ing their lead.

What re­mains un­clear is how Trump will re­spond to any per­ceived at­tempt to force him into a stronger po­si­tion on cli­mate change, though the of­fi­cials in­sist no one is try­ing to back the U.S. pres­i­dent into a cor­ner.

In­ter­est­ingly, the gov­ern­ment is also hop­ing the part­ner­ship will con­vince the French that Canada is in­deed se­ri­ous about fight­ing cli­mate change — and that rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the new Canada-EU free trade deal will even­tu­ally fol­low.

There have been con­cerns in France that in­vestor-pro­tec­tion clauses within the Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Trade Agree­ment — or CETA, as the Canada-EU deal is known — would lead to weak­ened en­vi­ron­men­tal rules.

At one point dur­ing Mon­day’s news con­fer­ence, Trudeau found him­self de­fend­ing the trade deal, not­ing there aren’t many other coun­tries that are bet­ter suited to a free trade deal with Europe than Canada.

“Whether its en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion or free­dom of ex­pres­sion or other things, Canada and France are well aligned. Canada and Europe are well aligned,” the prime min­is­ter said in French.

“And CETA is a pro­gres­sive trade agree­ment that truly re­flects those pro­tected val­ues and rep­re­sents a new stan­dard for all fu­ture trade agree­ments.”

Trudeau and Macron also marked the es­tab­lish­ment of a new cul­tural agree­ment, this one signed by Her­itage Min­is­ter Me­lanie Joly, that in­cluded pro­mot­ing the French lan­guage in “the dig­i­tal space” and af­firm­ing the two coun­tries’ sup­port for net neu­tral­ity.

While cli­mate and trade were at the top of the agenda for Trudeau’s meet­ing with Macron, also top of mind was the West African na­tion of Mali, where France is lead­ing a counter-ter­ror mis­sion and Canada is send­ing peace­keep­ers.

On Sun­day, Is­lamic mil­i­tants there launched a brazen — and trou­blingly so­phis­ti­cated — at­tack, dis­guis­ing them­selves as peace­keep­ers and then set­ting off sev­eral car bombs and at­tack­ing with rock­ets.

The at­tack, near the north­ern city of Tim­buktu, killed one UN peace­keeper and wounded at least a dozen sol­diers, some of whom were from France.

Trudeau was thanked twice on Mon­day for agree­ing to send Cana­dian peace­keep­ers to Mali, first by the head of the Fran­co­phonie, for­mer Cana­dian gover­nor gen­eral Michaelle Jean, and then by Macron.

“Canada made the de­ci­sion to par­tic­i­pate in Mi­nusma with the ad­di­tion of he­li­copters and sup­port per­son­nel,” Macron said, us­ing the of­fi­cial name for the UN peace­keep­ing mis­sion in Mali.

“And as you know to­day we are very, very con­nected to Mi­nusma and I think this is a very im­por­tant ges­ture that has been made by Canada, and we very much ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

Canada is send­ing six mil­i­tary he­li­copters to Mali later this year; they will be based at the UN base in Gao, rather than Tim­buktu.

Trudeau wraps up his visit to France on Tues­day by be­com­ing the first Cana­dian prime min­is­ter to ad­dress the French Na­tional Assem­bly, af­ter which he’ll fly to Lon­don to meet Bri­tish coun­ter­part Theresa May and the Queen.

Trudeau will then at­tend a meet­ing of Com­mon­wealth lead­ers on Thurs­day be­fore re­turn­ing to Canada, stop­ping to Hal­i­fax to at­tend the Lib­eral party con­ven­tion.


Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau meets with French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron in Paris, France on Mon­day.

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