Prime minister will meet U.S. President Donald Trump in first official visit Monday
Canadian prime minister must walk a fine line in pushing his own agenda with U.S. leader
WASHINGTON — United President Donald Trump will receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House on Monday — their first official meeting after weeks of backand-forth about setting a tangible agenda beyond pleasantries and first-encounter photo ops.
Several people familiar with the planning said uncertainty about the date lingered for a reason: the Canadian side wanted specific results, while the American administration is still busy getting its cabinet confirmed.
The scheduling drama was further fuelled by a spectacular public rift between Trump and the president of Mexico last month, scrubbing plans for a potential trilateral meeting of the continent’s Three Amigos.
The White House announced the encounter at its daily briefing.
“The president looks forward to a constructive conversation in strengthening the deep relationship that exists between the United States and Canada,” said spokesperson Sean Spicer.
The countries discussed various plans for a first encounter. The Canadian side considered different destinations that would allow it to leave a positive first impression of trade with Canada, while avoiding the blast radius of the Manhattanite’s project of reducing imports.
During a visit to the Arctic, Trudeau was asked Thursday about whether he planned to broach some of Trump’s more controversial policies, such as the now-infamous travel ban.
His answer nicely illustrated the fine line Canada must now walk as he described what he considers his two primary responsibilities.
“The first is, of course, to highlight Canadian values and principles and the things that we know make our country strong ... we have a set of solutions that work very well, not just for our community and our country, but indeed our world,” he said.
“The second responsibility I have, which we will very much be engaged in, is creating jobs and opportunity for Canadian citizens through the continued close integration on both sides of the border ...
“I will continue to discuss on a broad range of issues with the American president.”
That border was one possible meeting venue that had been under consideration — the idea was raised in a December interview by Canada’s U.S. ambassador David MacNaughton. The new administration wants a massive construction-jobs program, and there are several big projects underway along the border.
Another early idea considered was a U.S. manufacturing facility — the goal being to emphasize the nine million American jobs tied to trade with Canada.
The Canadian government is working to drill that figure into the memory of every American it meets. Different cabinet ministers were in Washington this week, reciting that statistic with metronomic regularity.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau