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Trudeau expresses ‘disappointment’ over Keystone XL in 1st phone call with Biden

Click to play video 'Biden’s first call to foreign leader is with Trudeau' Biden’s first call to foreign leader is with Trudeau
WATCH ABOVE: Biden's first call to foreign leader is with Trudeau – Jan 22, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in his first chat with U.S. President Joe Biden since Wednesday’s inauguration, expressed disappointment over the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The two leaders spoke over the phone for around 30 minutes on Friday. It was Biden’s first conversation with a foreign leader since taking office.

Read more: Premiers tell Trudeau they ‘want to go to war’ with U.S. over Keystone XL: sources

The call was the first opportunity for Trudeau to express the country’s consternation over Biden’s move to cancel the pipeline, a decision that was made on the latter’s first day in office.

“The Prime Minister raised Canada’s disappointment with the United States’ decision on the Keystone XL pipeline,” read the readout of the conversation from the Office of the Prime Minister (PMO).

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“The Prime Minister underscored the important economic and energy security benefits of our bilateral energy relationship as well as his support for energy workers.”

Click to play video 'Trudeau faces pressure to change Biden’s mind on Keystone XL' Trudeau faces pressure to change Biden’s mind on Keystone XL
Trudeau faces pressure to change Biden’s mind on Keystone XL – Jan 21, 2021

The move to scrap the US$8-billion pipeline project was one of many moves to rescind former approvals, policies and projects that were greenlighted by the former Donald Trump administration.

The readout provided by Biden’s White House did not add anything further to the discussion on the pipeline, however, the president acknowledged Trudeau’s “disappointment” over his decision.

In a news conference Friday outside Rideau Cottage, Trudeau addressed the pipeline’s cancellation and Canada’s relationship with the new U.S. leader.

“It’s not always going to be perfect alignment with the United States; that’s the case with any given president,” said Trudeau.

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“In a situation where we are much more aligned — on values, on focus, on the work that needs to be done to give opportunities for everyone while we build a better future — I’m very much looking forward to working with President Biden.”

Click to play video 'Will the Keystone XL cancellation impact other cross-border pipelines?' Will the Keystone XL cancellation impact other cross-border pipelines?
Will the Keystone XL cancellation impact other cross-border pipelines? – Jan 21, 2021

Trudeau also addressed a First Ministers meeting on Thursday where he faced anger from some of Canada’s premiers over Biden’s decision to cancel the pipeline project.

“During our conversation, the premiers and I talked about the United States’ decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. I am of course, disappointed with this choice,” said Trudeau.

“To workers especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan who’ve been hit hard, we will continue to have your backs. We will always stand up for good Canadian jobs.”

Read more: Alberta premier calls for compensation amid cancellation of Keystone XL

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The call with the ministers, which lasted just over an hour, included discussions on the raging coronavirus pandemic but was dominated by the president’s order, which was signed just a day earlier.

According to aides who participated in the meeting, “some premiers want to go to war” with the United States over the Keystone XL cancellation. The aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the discussion “got pretty heated.”

Click to play video 'Keystone XL cancellation a blow to economy of the Alberta town where the pipeline begins' Keystone XL cancellation a blow to economy of the Alberta town where the pipeline begins
Keystone XL cancellation a blow to economy of the Alberta town where the pipeline begins – Jan 22, 2021

During Trudeau’s call with Biden, the two leaders also discussed the topic of China, in which the prime minister brought up the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — two Canadians detained there in what is widely believed to have been a retaliatory move against Canada’s arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

During the chat, both leaders highlighted their main priority as that of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The PMO said that collaboration on vaccines and the exchange of medical personnel and flow of medical supplies was also discussed.

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A senior government source told Global News earlier that the topic of climate change comprised a large part of the conversation. Both the prime minister and the president addressed the “urgent” need for action on climate change, their commitment to the Paris Agreement and agreed to work together to achieve net-zero emissions, according to the readout.

Both the prime minister and president also agreed to meet next month in order “to advance the important work of renewing the deep and enduring friendship between Canada and the United States.”

— With files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Sean Boynton and David Akin