A Bromance 20 Years in the Making

This past Wednesday, March 16th, Justin Trudeau and his family arrived in Washington D.C.the first Prime Minister in 20 years to be hosted at the White House. And, as the 6th Prime Minister in the history of U.S.-Canada relations to be hosted by a U.S. president, naturally, there was a lot to discuss.

There’s no doubt that Canada-U.S. relations have been dwindling these past years, even with significantly controversial trading agreements like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), and the upcoming TPP (Trans-Pacific Parternship) agreement that’s waiting to be ratified (for more information on these: http://www.naftanow.org/ and http://canadians.org/tpp which explains the TPP from a Canadian perspective. Be weary of bias, though). Apart from these, not much has been happening between the Great North and its big bro below. This is perhaps why I find this dinner so exciting, even though it was so shortas the only country bordering Canada, it’s time to start some real and serious conversations with the United States; to create a relationship aware of how much each side of the border depends on each other.  

So let’s begin with the agenda.

Climate change dominated dinner table conversation. Obama and Trudeau made a myriad of promises to tackle the paramount threat. Of these promises most insisted to reduce green house gas emissions like methane and HFCs, each by a significant amount. To go beyond the generalization of this redundant goal that’s usually on the backbenches of all political agendas, specific sectors, like the aviation sector, was called out for need of change in the way airplanes consume fuel and release toxins into the air. There are many more sectors than just this, of course, that need to be addressed. But advancing the huge technology of airplanes may also lead to advancements in smaller vehicles, like cars or ships. The statement also looks to provide more financial aid to developing countries that need to offset their emissions as they rise to ‘developed’ status.

Border concerns are another big issueone that’s been at the heart of Canada-U.S. relations for several generations. When you’re surrounded by three oceans and one country with similar culture and standards, security doesn’t seem like that great of an issue. However, terrorist attacks in the last decade or so have created fear amongst American borders, which have also affected our borders which deal with almost 2.4 billion dollars of trading and services each day. Recently, a lot of ‘no-fly’ lists have been popping up with regards to Canadian citizens, even children! Obama and Trudeau’s statements have established that customs pre-clearance will be expanded in more areas, as well as the establishment of a group to help with the ‘no-fly’ list complaints.

Other topics include the arctic, softwood lumber and the TPP. You may not have heard so much of the former two topics in media. They’re something usually not ‘shocking’ enough or ‘grandiose.’  However, the arctic also has a lot to do with Canadian borders and climate change. Softwood lumber has a lot to do with our economyour especially resource-dominant economy responsible for jobs made and lost (like what we’re seeing in Alberta right now).

This composed the majority of topics discussed at the dinner. However, it's important to keep in mind that Obama has 8 months left in his presidency. Are these promises between a new government and one about to end going to be fulfilled in time? It's hard to say, especially since the Prime Minsiter and President are at separate, extreme ends of their political careers. What will happen to these new founding U.S.-Canada relations once a new American government is in place? Though we must wait 8 months to tell, at least Trudeau managed to impose some serious Canadian culture when he got the chance:

"Over $2.4 billion worth of goods and services cross the border every day -- evidence of one of the largest and most mutually beneficial trading relationships in the world. And one of our most popular exports to the United States, and I need you to stop teasing him, has been another Justin. Now, no, no, that kid has had a great year. And of course, leave it to a Canadian to reach international fame with a song called 'Sorry.'"

For more on past dinners (and there’s only 5 others, so it isn’t much), this is an excellent, brief summation (in video form) of the history of Canadian prime ministers hosted by the U.S.:


Not only does it mention the topics discussed, but also the food served!


References and Pictures: