OTTAWA – French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is meeting today with Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau, hoping to learn how Canada has avoided some of the nasty anti-trade and anti-immigration sentiment simmering in Europe and the U.S.
Valls wants to discuss “the political atmosphere in the Western Hemisphere with the rising of populism, protectionism, and all these questions that we see rising in various countries,” said a French diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“But less so in Canada, so that’s why the prime minister is interested to hear about the Canadian situation and Canadian solutions.”
French officials also say Valls is keen to get an update from Trudeau on Canada’s plans for sending peacekeepers to West Africa to join the fight against Islamic militants.
The Trudeau government has said it will commit 600 peacekeepers to UN missions, and France has been pushing Canada hard to join the UN mission in West Africa.
France has 3,000 troops fighting a separate counter-insurgency mission in several countries that used to be its colonies, under the banner of Operation Barkhane.
Valls, who arrived Wednesday in Ottawa, was scheduled to sit down with Trudeau for a private dinner before Thursday’s more formal proceedings. Both leaders travel to Montreal on Thursday for a luncheon hosted by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard.
Climate change and the Canada-U.S. free trade deal have been singled out by Trudeau’s office as being among Canada’s top priorities.
“The visit will also allow us to promote greater trade and innovation flows – particularly though CETA – to help grow the middle class and strengthen our economies,” Trudeau said in a statement.