Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Joe Biden, then the outgoing U.S. vice-president, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Joe Biden, then the outgoing U.S. vice-president, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle

VIDEO: Justin Trudeau first leader to talk to U.S. president-elect Joe Biden

The telephone call took place even as Donald Trump refused to concede

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the first international leader to have personally congratulated Joe Biden on being elected U.S. president, his office said Monday as it summarized a conversation about areas of co-operation — and potential contention.

The telephone call took place even as Donald Trump refused to concede, making unfounded allegations of electoral fraud. Trudeau had already issued a statement congratulating Biden, who will be sworn in as president at an inauguration ceremony Jan. 20, soon after media outlets declared him the winner Saturday.

READ MORE: Democrat Joe Biden to be the 46th president of the United States in historic election

The prime minister and Biden discussed a variety of topics, including COVID-19, climate change, the need to fight anti-Black racism and China’s detention of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, according to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office after the call.

The statement also says Trudeau raised several issues that have challenged the Canada-U. S. relationship, including the softwood lumber dispute, U.S. protectionism and the Keystone XL pipeline, which Biden has suggested he wants cancelled.

Biden’s transition team released its own statement acknowledging the call — a typically routine government exercise that had become a rarity under Trump.

Biden, it said, is looking forward to “working closely” with Trudeau on ways to “advance global health security and resilience against future biological threats; revitalize bilateral economic ties as well as the broader North American partnership, and to deepen collaboration with Canada to address a range of regional and global challenges.”

Those challenges include “managing hemispheric migration, strengthening NATO and combating climate change.”

Earlier Monday, Trudeau stressed Ottawa would stand up for Canadian jobs and interests if the new administration sought to erect barriers to trade between the two countries.

During a news conference announcing federal funds to expand high-speed internet across Canada, the prime minister sidestepped questions about Trump’s allegations of electoral fraud. Trudeau said he has “confidence in the American electoral process as it has unfolded.”

When asked what message he would send to Trump, Trudeau said his message is the same for every American president: “I will work to defend Canadian interests. That’s my job.”

The election of Biden is a breath of fresh air for the Trudeau government after four tumultuous years dealing with the mercurial Trump, who personally attacked the prime minister on several occasions as his administration imposed punitive tariffs on Canadian steel, aluminum and other goods.

Yet Biden has talked about limiting foreign products in his plan to invest hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy over the next four years as part of what he has described as a Build Back Better strategy. That could have a big impact on Canadian jobs and interests.

Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, which represents more than 2,500 companies across the country, is one of those that have expressed concern about Biden’s plans — and called on Ottawa to redouble its efforts to keep trade flowing.

“Traditionally, Democrats have been more protectionist in their outlook,” CME president Dennis Darby said in a statement. “Mr. Biden campaigned promising to strengthen the Buy American Acts and Buy America, and these policies may force Canadian companies to invest in or relocate to the United States.”

The CME urged the Liberal government to continue lobbying U.S. senators and state governments to prevent an rise in protectionism, as well as changing Canada’s tax regime to help business.

Asked about an rise in U.S. protectionism under Biden, Trudeau said Canada has developed a great deal of experience in pushing back against the Trump administration’s tariffs as well as the negotiation of a new North American free trade agreement.

“The fundamental argument that we made every step of the way over the past four years — and we’ll continue to make into the future — is the fact that creating or imposing barriers on trade between Canada and the U.S. not only hurts Canada, but also hurts workers and companies in the United States,” Trudeau added.

“The integration of our supply chains, the close collaboration and co-operation between businesses and people on both sides of the border means it’s always better for us to have free-flowing goods and opportunities on both sides of the border as we work together to succeed in an increasingly competitive global market.”

Scotty Greenwood, a former American diplomat in Canada who now heads the Canadian-American Business Council in Washington, D.C., says it is important that Canada not become complacent on trade, with the Biden administration taking over after four years of Trump.

“There will be work to be done to make sure that the administration is reminded of the specifics of how integrated we are,” Greenwood said. “But it’s not going to be the kind of lift it was for the last four years.”

Specifically referring to some of the punitive tariffs and other unilateral trade actions taken againstCanada by Trump over the past four years, Greenwood said: “You won’t see those kinds of tariffs and those kind of threats being levied against Canada or our other allies in a Biden-Harris administration.”

READ MORE: Ottawa welcomes president-elect Joe Biden as ally in climate fight

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat to the U.S. and vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, noted that Canada had to fight a decade ago when the Obama administration implemented restrictions on foreign goods in its own stimulus spending following the financial crash.

The Trudeau government should mimic what Stephen Harper’s Conservatives did back then, Robertson said, which included enlisting premiers to liaise with U.S. governors and negotiating a reciprocity agreement on procurement.

“It strikes me that Biden will want environmental and labour safeguards and this will be congruent with our own approach,” he added. “It means we should approach this bilaterally and aim for a Canada-U. S. agreement like in 2010 rather than trilateral (with) Mexico.”

The prime minister also said he will keep working with the Trump administration until Biden takes over on Jan. 20, including on efforts to get Kovrig and Spavor released from Chinese detention.

Trudeau also went out of his way to congratulate Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris, who is to become vice-president. He said seeing a Black and South Asian American woman elected to the vice-presidency was inspiring, and a reminder that everyone has a place in the corridors of power.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaJoe BidenJustin TrudeauUSAvideo

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penticton Golf and Country Club was in full swing on opening day on March 2. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Golf in full swing on opening day at Penticton course

All tee times are booked into the next two weeks at the Penticton Golf and Country Club

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

The City of Penticton is redirecting $150,000 for emergency repair work on Penticton Creek. (Western News File)
Grant delays force Penticton to redirect funds for emergency creek repairs

Council approved redirecting $150K to do repairs before the spring melt

Penticton City Hall. (File photo)
Penticton council ups construction costs

Council approved an interim increase of 25 per cent to all of the city’s development cost charges

A town was constructed on the side of a mountain top in Hedley to extract 7.1 tonnes of gold. (Mascotmine.com photo)
Hedley’s Mascot Mine gets $800,000 lift from COVID relief program

Grant will enable the historic mine to open again for tourists

Longtime Vernon friends Zach Anderson, left, and Justin Mitchell discussed depression on social media. Anderson is in Perth, Australia, where he is partaking in a running event to raise money and awareness of depression in memory of longtime Morning Star editor Glenn Mitchell, Justin’s father. (Photo contributed)
Man laces up for mental health challenge in honour of former Vernon editor

Zach Anderson, with blessing of Mitchell’s family, raising awareness of depression Down Under

Two semis sideswiped each other after one crossed a double-solid line on the Trans-Canada Highway in Craigellachie on March 2. (Sicamous RCMP image)
Semi trucks avoid head-on collision by inches on Highway 1 east of Sicamous

Police say a westbound semi truck crossed the double-solid line

The Township of Spallumcheen has approved $12,000 in COVID-19 Restart Grant funds to support the reopening and operation of the Historic O’Keefe Ranch March 1, 2021. (O’Keefe Ranch photo)
O’Keefe Ranch secures COVID-19 Restart funds

The historic Spallumcheen ranch has suffered significant losses due to restrictions on travel and gatherings

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

The BC SPCA Shuswap Branch announced Captain and Maria had been adopted together on Feb. 28, 2021. (BC SPCA Shuswap Branch photo)
Shuswap BC SPCA’s inseperable pair of akbash dogs given home

Staff and volunteers happy to see Captain and Maria adopted together

In this July 13, 2020, photo, a black lives matter mural is visible in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, which grew out of the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement, is formally expanding a $3 million financial relief fund that it quietly launched in February 2021, to help people struggling to make ends meet during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Andrew Harnik/AP file photo)
After the rally: Kelowna BLM organizers working to launch diversity curriculum

Paige Harrison and Kermisha Pereira said the work around diversity continues

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has cleared the Lumby RCMP of any wrongdoing after a missing person was found deceased in December 2020. (IIO photo)
Police watchdog says North Okanagan RCMP played no role in missing person’s death

The body was found by a family member shortly after the RCMP suspended their search

The area on Cordova Bay Road where ancestral human remains were discovered Feb. 22. (Submitted photo)
Human remains discovery a reminder of B.C. Indigenous culture dug up and displaced

‘These are the people who inspired and birthed the generations that we now have here’

Most Read