Canadian Manufacturing

U.S. summit focuses on mutual interests, avoids Canadian wish list

Experts want Ottawa to push the U.S. hard to exempt Canada from Buy American, Biden's suite of protectionist measures to ensure infrastructure spending prioritizes American businesses.

February 23, 2021  The Canadian Press

The White House did not acknowledge Canada’s own wish list for President Joe Biden’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, focusing instead on Feb. 23 on areas of “shared vision” and “mutual concern.”

The U.S. administration’s “road map” for enhanced co-operation between the two countries lays out priorities for Biden’s first bilateral meeting as president — a route that steers well clear of potential potholes.

“The road map is a blueprint for our whole-of-government relationship, based on our shared values and commitment to work in partnership on areas of mutual concern,” the White House said.

It lays out six priority areas, including battling the pandemic, rebuilding the economy “on both sides of the border,” and a “high-level climate ministerial” meeting to align efforts to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

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The section on “Building Back Better” — a turn of phrase from Biden’s presidential campaign that’s also popular with the Trudeau government — pays tribute to Liberal election rhetoric as well, promising a vision “that strengthens the middle class and creates more opportunities for hard-working people to join it.”

Experts want Ottawa to push the U.S. hard to exempt Canada from Buy American, Biden’s suite of protectionist measures to ensure infrastructure spending prioritizes American businesses.

Trudeau is also likely to seek Biden’s help with vaccines, since Canada has been squeezed by production problems in Europe — and is only a two-hour drive away from a prominent Pfizer manufacturing facility in Michigan.

Eric Miller, a Canada-U.S. expert and president of the D.C.-based Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, said the synchronicity between the two leaders is why Trudeau needs to seize the moment.

“To me, this is exactly the moment for Canada to go on offence,” Miller said.

The Biden administration and the Trudeau government have aligned interests on climate change, a multilateral foreign policy and on a new approach to China, he said.