U.S. President Joe Biden landed in Ottawa on Thursday evening for his first official visit since winning the presidency in 2020.
Canada is normally one of the first foreign trips for a new president, but Biden’s visit has been delayed, in part due to COVID-19. He will be in Ottawa until Friday.
After touching down on Air Force One, Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden were met by a delegation that included Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, Treasury Board President Mona Fortier and Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman.
Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, hosted the Bidens at their official Rideau Cottage residence in Ottawa later Thursday evening. Further public events are expected to be scheduled for Friday.
Trudeau told reporters on Wednesday that the two will discuss many subjects.
“Of course, we’ll talking about China, but the centre of our conversations will be about jobs and growth, critical minerals and fighting climate change, and continuing to build an economy across the continent that works for all of our citizens,” he said.
When the White House confirmed Biden’s trip earlier this month, it said the topics that will be discussed include continued support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion, the instability in Haiti, supply chain resilience and the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic in both countries, according to the statement.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in an earlier statement that the two leaders will also discuss cooperation on climate action and the economy.
“Canada and the United States are allies, neighbours, and most importantly, friends,” Trudeau said in a statement. “I look forward to welcoming President Biden to Canada.”
Another top issue will be modernizing NORAD, the shared continental air defence network, which is back in the spotlight after the appearance of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that hovered over Canada and the U.S. last month.
That object and three others detected over North America days afterward — all of which were shot down by the U.S. — has led to new scrutiny over NORAD’s surveillance and defence capabilities, as well as its current limitations.
Both the U.S. and Canada have committed to updating and strengthening NORAD over the coming years, as well as developing new tools to detect and defend against new threats like the surveillance balloon.
Furthermore, both leaders are likely to discuss the irregular migrant crossings at Roxham Road at the Quebec-New York border. Trudeau said in French that the government is working with the U.S. to “fix the situation” at the crossing, and that negotiations are ongoing.
Biden last visited Canada in December 2016, when he was vice president in the Obama administration.
The last time a sitting American president was in Canada was when Donald Trump came to Quebec for the G7 Leaders’ Summit in June 2018.
Trudeau and Biden have spoken and met repeatedly since then, most recently during the North American Leaders’ Summit with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico City in January.
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