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Canadian MPs unanimously call for visit from Biden, Harris after COVID-19

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Members of Parliament from all political stripes passed a motion unanimously on Monday calling on the government to invite U.S. president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris to visit and congratulating them on their victories.

Canada is traditionally either the first or second visit for new U.S. presidents once they take office but outgoing President Donald Trump has never come for an official or state visit, save a brief working trip in Quebec for the G7 Summit in Charlevoix in 2018.

Public opinion polling has consistently shown Canadians hold a low opinion of Trump, while polling done by Ipsos just before the U.S. election suggested the majority of Canadians hold more positive views of Biden and believed he would better suit the country’s interests.

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The NDP motion asked, “that the House congratulate president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris on their election and in recognition of the extraordinary relationship between Canada and the United States, call upon the government to invite both to visit Parliament.”

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It also called for the government to invite Biden to give a formal address to Parliament “at the earliest safe opportunity to do so.”

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Visiting dignitaries can address Canadian parliamentarians in what’s known as a joint address, when members of Parliament and senators gather in the House of Commons together.

In the past decade, six foreign leaders have done so, including former president Barack Obama in 2016, former French president Francois Hollande in 2014, former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in 2014, and former British prime minister David Cameron in 2011.

Such speeches normally highlight shared values and interests, and emphasize close ties or contributions towards shared goals on the world stage.

The coronavirus pandemic, however, will likely delay any such official visits for the foreseeable future.

The virus is raging south of the border and in Canada, cases continue to hit new daily highs as officials urge Canadians to limit contact with those outside their households, and avoid non-essential outings.