Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s looking forward to meeting the leaders of the U.S. and Mexico at the end of the month after the relationships “were let fray” over the past several years.
Trudeau will host U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in Ottawa at the end of June for the first North American Leaders’ Summit — also known as the Three Amigos — since early 2014. Former Prime Mcinister Stephen Harper cancelled the 2015 summit amid rising tension with the U.S. over the Keystone XL pipeline extension proposal, which Obama eventually rejected.
There was also tension between Canada and Mexico after the Harper government imposed a visitor’s visa on all travellers from Mexico. The Liberals have promised to lift that requirement.
In an interview with BNN, Trudeau says there’s “tremendous opportunity” for the three countries to strengthen their relationship around energy and border issues.
“We can be very complementary as countries. The U.S. with its market, Canada with its innovation and its resources, Mexico as a developing economy. We have a tremendous amount of synergy that I’m really excited about building once again,” Trudeau said.
“I think for a number of years these relationships were let fray a little bit and there’s an opportunity now to benefit [from them].”
Trudeau has met with Obama several times over the past year and visited Washington, D.C. for the first Canadian state visit there since 1997. Obama’s term ends in a few months so, while Trudeau and Obama seem to get along well, he’ll soon have to build a relationship with a new president.
The prime minister sounded a reassuring note over comments by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump about changing NAFTA.
“One thing we see during any election campaign is there is a lot of protectionistic talk,” Trudeau said.
It’s important, he said, that Canada show trade is good for Canadians as well as the country’s trading partners and that it creates opportunities.
“These are the kind of arguments that I know whoever becomes American president will understand and realize that we have lots of challenges that we need to work on together. Fixing NAFTA isn’t one of them,” he said.
Trudeau also reiterated his job as prime minister is to get Canadian natural resources to the coast, which would expand export opportunities by allowing them to be sold to markets other than the U.S.
“But what the last government didn’t understand is you can’t just focus on the economy and ignore the environmental concerns that, not just Canadians have, but our allies have as well,” Trudeau said.
Showing the government understands environmental responsibility will reassure Canadians that they understand those concerns, “and are going to allay them,” Trudeau said. “Because that, the last government didn’t do so well.”
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