President Joe Biden will pay his first visit to Canada since taking office later this month for talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and an address to the country’s Parliament, the White House announced Thursday.
Traditionally a stop in the United States’ northern neighbor is customary in the opening months of a presidency. But Covid-19 restrictions and the all-consuming war in Ukraine delayed Biden’s first visit to Ottawa until more than two years into his term.
The delay hasn’t appeared to have dampened relations with Trudeau, a fellow liberal who is closely aligned with Biden on many policies. Still, there are some areas of disagreement on trade and immigration that will be hashed out during the visit, set to occur from March 23-24.
The White House said first lady Dr. Jill Biden would accompany her husband in Ottawa.
Biden will “reaffirm the United States’ commitment to the US-Canada partnership and promote our shared security, shared prosperity, and shared values,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wrote in a statement.
Biden and Trudeau coordinated recently when a suspected Chinese spy balloon traversed parts of Canada and the United States. Later, US fighter jets shot down other unidentified objects over both countries.
Trudeau said amid those incidents that he would discuss protecting North American airspace with Biden during his expected visit. The White House said the conversation would revolve around “modernizing the North American Aerospace Defense Command.”
Jean-Pierre said the two men would also discuss Ukraine. Trudeau, the longest-serving leader in the G7, has been an ally to Biden in providing military and financial assistance to the country during Russia’s invasion.
Climate change, the opioid crisis and supply chain issues are also on the agenda, according to the White House.
Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump visited Canada only once for a Group of 7 summit held in a wooded resort north of Quebec City. His acrimony toward Trudeau was on display afterward when he rescinded his signature from a joint statement and labeled the Canadian prime minister “very dishonest and weak.”
Biden, meanwhile, has met Trudeau several times since taking office, including most recently during a North American Leaders Summit in Mexico City in January.
The two men have known each other for years. One of Biden’s final trips as vice president was to attend a state dinner held in his honor in Ottawa; during his toast, Biden recounted the call he received from Trudeau’s father, Pierre, – then serving as prime minister himself – when his first wife and daughter died in a car accident.