Politics | Two days in Ottawa…

There are few things more valuable than the time of the President of the United States. There are elected Americans who spend entire careers in Washington without spending a few minutes alone with the occupant of the White House.

Also, when the President of the United States comes on a two-day state visit to Ottawa, it counts.

Just to compare to its recent predecessors, if you don’t count the presence at international summits hosted by Canada like the G7, there wasn’t much interest in this relationship.

Consequently, President Trump has not paid an official visit to Canada.

His predecessor, Barack Obama, came in for part of the day. He arrived in the morning. Speech in the House of Commons in the afternoon and back in Washington at dinner time. George W. Bush visited Ottawa and Halifax after his re-election in 2004.

It is a sign of friendship for Canada for Mr. Biden to come for two days and show how close he has always been to Canada. One of his final gestures as Obama’s vice president was to come to Ottawa to meet with Justin Trudeau. And when he was a senator and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, his office was a must-have for Canadian politicians visiting Washington.

However, relations between Canada and the United States are never straightforward. Jean Chretien had already said that the most frustrating thing for a Canadian prime minister is to have something to ask of the president.

“You have the most powerful man in the world with you and you ask him to help you with a small problem that has become a big problem here. And he answers you: “I would like to help you, but such-and-such a senator from such-and-such a country is really against it and… I need his vote to pass the budget…”

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Like what, it’s not because we have time with the President of the United States that he can solve the problems that trouble Canada.

Which brings us to Roxham Road. In Quebec, it is easy to believe that the topic will be at the top of the meeting program among MM. Biden and Trudeau.

But let’s see what the White House statement said, which listed the topics to be discussed:

  1. Defense Cooperation and NORAD
  2. Supply chain security
  3. climate change challenges
  4. Regional challenges, particularly Haiti
  5. The war in Ukraine
  6. The opioid crisis
  7. And last but not least… illegal immigration

We shall therefore speak by way of Roxham… But when we read between the lines, we are almost inclined to add: ‘If we have time’.

Obviously, the Canadian side will have its say on the agenda. And obviously we’ll discuss immigration and Roxham, but we can’t think we’ll be able to quickly renegotiate the agreement on safe third countries.

Either way, Americans will quickly point out to their Canadian friends that the deal in question was made at Canada’s behest, as part of a series of post-9/11 security arrangements.

You should also know that Roxham Road has become a partisan affair in the US as well. A group of about 30 elected Republicans formed the Northern Border Security Caucus. They basically want to politicize the issue by showing that the problem of illegal immigration is no longer only on the southern border.

It is true that the number of illegal crossings from Canada into the United States – relatively modest compared to the southern border – has increased in recent months. But talk of a crisis?

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said Elise Stefanik, the number three Republican in the House of Representatives elected from 21H New York State area, which includes Plattsburgh and Roxham Road.

All of this is to say that President Biden has issues of his own on immigration, and we must not see the Roxham Road dossier while forgetting this American angle.

Indeed, if we can expect to see the two leaders tackle a more pressing issue, we should probably look to Haiti.

The Americans have suggested strongly in recent months that Canada should lead a multinational force in Haiti where there is a major political and social crisis.

But Canada refuses, and again this week, the Chief of Staff, General Wayne Eyre, indicated that the capacity of the Canadian forces was very limited, especially since we would soon double the contingent in Estonia, which has borders with Russia and Belarus. .

Accuracy :
In an earlier version of the column, he wrote that George W. Bush had not paid an official visit to Canada. However, it was his father, President George Bush Sr., who did not come on an official visit to the country. George W. Bush visited Ottawa and Halifax in 2004. We apologize.

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About the Author: Hermínio Guimarães

"Introvertido premiado. Viciado em mídia social sutilmente charmoso. Praticante de zumbis. Aficionado por música irritantemente humilde."

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