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Biden presidency a ‘great opportunity’ for Canada, Champagne says

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WATCH: Biden presidency 'is a great opportunity' for Canada: Champagne – Nov 8, 2020

Americans have voted, and U.S. president-elect Joe Biden is set to take the country’s highest office in January.

In an interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne said the new administration will be a “great opportunity” to see what more Canada and the U.S. can do together.

“I think the big prize is to build back better together,” he said. 
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Read more: President-elect Joe Biden pledges to unite Americans in victory speech

Champagne pointed to the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and climate change as areas where the two countries can work collaboratively.

“I think we’ll have two allies in the White House,” he said.

There are also a number of ongoing files between the nations.

Top of that list, Champagne said, is securing the release of two Canadian men who have been detained in China since December 2018.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested separately in China shortly after Canadian authorities in Vancouver detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, who is wanted in the United States on fraud charges.

Both men have been charged with spying.

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However, officials in Canada and the U.S. say these allegations are arbitrary and baseless and have called for their release.

Click to play video 'What’s next for Trump?  And for Canada-US relations?' What’s next for Trump? And for Canada-US relations?
What’s next for Trump? And for Canada-US relations? – Nov 8, 2020
Champagne said Canada is “going to be working closely” with the new administration on the issue of the detained men.
“I mean this is top of the agenda,” he said. “We have worked with the previous administration to free both Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.”
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“And I think what you’re going to see talking to my European colleagues over the last week is how can we work together closer, you know, defending things that are cherished by Canadians: freedom, liberty and democracy.”
Champagne said he thinks there will be a “sense of coming togetherness in order to face the challenges that are posed by China.”
In a separate interview with The West Block, Gary Doer, Canada’s former ambassador to the United States and former Manitoba premier, was asked if he thinks Biden will take a harder line on China than the Trump administration has.
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“Well, he’ll be similar to what he was in the past on China, wanting them to follow the rule of law, wanting them to not act in an arbitrary way with any one of the trading partners, including the United States,” he said.

Read more: U.S. election results: Live, real-time election results as Joe Biden set to become president

Asked if there is a possibility the U.S. could move to drop the extradition charge against Wanzhou, Doer said he doesn’t think we can predict what will happen.
“But I do think that anything we do, we should do ourselves as Canadians,” he said. “We shouldn’t roll the dice with what … Biden may or may not do.”
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“I think we have to take this in our own hands and make sure that our two Canadian citizens are ultimately released from jail.”
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Unifying a divided America will be Joe Biden’s great challenge: former DNC head – Nov 8, 2020
He said the men “don’t belong there,” adding that Canada should do “everything possible in our own sovereign country to make that happen.”
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Overall, Doer said a Biden presidency will be “less chaotic and more orderly [and] more predictable” than the last four years, adding that there will be “more consultation, rather than unilateral decision making on the other side of the border.”
Click to play video 'America Votes 2020: Will Biden’s win fuel a fresh relationship with Canada?' America Votes 2020: Will Biden’s win fuel a fresh relationship with Canada?
America Votes 2020: Will Biden’s win fuel a fresh relationship with Canada? – Nov 8, 2020