Trudeau, Biden to hold 1st bilateral meeting virtually on Tuesday

Click to play video: 'What’s ahead for Canada-U.S. relations during Joe Biden’s presidency' What’s ahead for Canada-U.S. relations during Joe Biden’s presidency
WATCH: What's ahead for Canada-U.S. relations during Joe Biden's presidency – Jan 20, 2021

A date has been set for the first bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden.

The Prime Minister’s Office said in an online release that the virtual meeting will take place on Tuesday, where the two are expected to discuss each country’s COVID-19 response, climate change, “their bilateral energy relationship, defence and security, and promoting diversity and inclusion.”

“Canada and the United States share one of the strongest and deepest friendships between any two countries in the world. It is built on common values, strong ties between our people, and a shared geography,” Trudeau said in the release.

Read more: Trudeau sees ‘real opportunity’ for collaboration with U.S. on electric vehicles, critical minerals

“I look forward to my meeting with President Biden, where we will work together to end the COVID-19 pandemic and support people in both our countries.”

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In a statement from the White House, U.S. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the meeting will cover a “range of bilateral and global issues.”

“In this virtual event, the President will highlight the strong and deep partnership between the United States and Canada as neighbors, friends and NATO Allies,” the statement read.

During their last call, Trudeau and Biden discussed two Canadian men detained in China, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

It is unclear whether the two leaders will discuss the arbitrary detention of the two Michaels during the bilateral meeting, but the former administration condemned their incarceration and has called for their release.

The two Canadian men were imprisoned in China in 2018, shortly after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in British Columbia on an extradition charge from the United States.

Read more: Canada creates coalition with 57 countries to declare arbitrary detentions immoral

The bilateral meeting comes one week after Canadian members of Parliament voted in favour of creating a special committee that will focus on the economic relationship between the two countries, with Conservatives citing the need for a “serious plan for the economic recovery that recognizes the integration of the North American economy.”

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White House defends revoking Keystone XL permit, says Biden committed to clean energy jobs – Jan 21, 2021

The motion passed 326 to 3, with just members of the Green Party voting against the adoption of the committee.

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The announcement of the bilateral meeting comes exactly one month after Biden killed the Keystone XL pipeline expansion project with Canada in a series of executive orders signed shortly after his inauguration.

Read more: Biden revokes presidential permit for Keystone XL pipeline expansion on 1st day

The executive order to revoke a presidential permit that would have seen the expansion of the pipeline dealt a particularly hard blow to Alberta and Saskatchewan, which were counting on the US$8-billion project to help their energy sectors.

The move to scrap the expansion hits hardest for Alberta, which had invested $1.5 billion into the project last year and was expected to rake in $30 billion in revenue from the Keystone XL over the course of the next 20 years.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has repeatedly criticized Biden over the pipeline expansion’s cancellation, calling the move a “gut punch” to Alberta’s economy.

“A close friend and ally doesn’t just rip up approval like that and cause a multi-billion-dollar loss without at least offering compensation and without our own national government responding in a meaningful way,” he said during a previous interview with Global News.

Read more: Canada didn’t start Keystone XL dispute — the president did, Kenney says in rebuke of Biden

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Trudeau has expressed his “disappointment” with Biden’s decision to cancel the project and vowed to “stand up” for Albertans, but Kenney said more needs to be done and has urged Trudeau to take further action.

“If we don’t see those actions, if we don’t see the same seriousness about this issue that we did on aluminum and steel tariffs and other sectors attacked by American protectionism, then that will only compel us to go further in our fight for a fair deal in the federation,” he said in January.

The dispute has raised concerns over the fate of the Line 5 pipeline, which carries roughly 87 million litres of oil and natural gas liquids between Sarnia, Ont., and parts of Michigan each day, and accounts for at least 3,000 jobs in Sarnia.

Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole urged Canada’s U.S. ambassador to advocate for Line 5’s preservation on Feb. 11.

In an official readout of the request, the Opposition leader’s office said O’Toole insisted the cancelling of the pipeline project would deal a “tremendous economic blow” to both countries.

— With files from Global News’ David Lao

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