May, Trudeau likely to focus on trade in a post-Brexit era
Leaders might run into roadblocks as they attempt to strengthen economic ties
OTTAWA— It is billed as a meeting of allies but it may not necessarily be a meeting of minds.
When British Prime Minister Theresa May, leader of a minority Conservative government, meets Monday in Ottawa with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the global poster boy for liberalism, they’ll hash over issues of international relations, trade and national security.
No doubt the two leaders will emerge touting nation-to-nation ties and international co-operation in the face of challenges such as climate change and North Korea.
They’ve met before, on the sidelines of the G7 summit in May in Italy, but have not sat down to hold formal bilateral talks. Both are headed to the United Nations General Assembly next week in New York.
May (who likes fancy footwear) and Trudeau (who likes fancy socks) are likely to agree on many items: the need to increase high-level government contacts, improvements to digital services delivered by governments and within governments, and the need to deepen economic ties — somehow.
But they’ll just as likely differ on others: how exactly to further trade, how much to increase internet surveillance to combat terrorism, or how hard to push back against U.S. President Donald Trump’s occasional blasts of bombast. May and Trudeau have already found common ground in the past month, in the name of protecting jobs in Canada and Northern Ireland. Canada and Britain united in opposition to U.S. aerospace giant Boeing’s trade challenge of Canadian government support for Bombardier’s C-series passenger jet program. May’s government has lobbied U.S. officials on behalf of Canada’s Bombardier, which employs about 5,000 at a plant in Belfast.
However, in a post-Brexit era where the British government is trying to negotiate a clean but advantageous break from the European Union, questions loom about just how far Canada can adopt a business-as-usual approach to CanadaU.K. relations.
The EU has poured cold water on British proposals to keep customs and trade advantages of that union even after it leaves in March 2019, and Britain, Canada’s biggest trading partner in Europe, is barred by EU law from advancing its trade prospects by negotiating deals with other countries outside of the EU until after it has left.