PLATTSBURGH — While some may speculate on the talking points of U.S. President Joe Biden’s Friday call with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Garry Douglas finds the “fresh and renewed” talk of binational matters more significant.
Noting that the two leaders would likely return to a “more traditional tone,” the North Country Chamber of Commerce president believed disagreements were inevitable, but said they would hopefully be “resolved by agreed channels for resolution, versus responses such as tariffs, which only hurt ourselves given how integrated our two economies are.”
The call was Biden’s first with a foreign leader since taking office earlier this week.
“With every new president, we hope that their first international outreach will be to the Prime Minister of Canada, recognizing our unique and extraordinary connections, economically, socially and as allies,” Douglas said. “We are therefore very pleased this contact is first on President Biden’s list.”
The office of Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, issued a similar sentiment, saying Biden’s talk with the Canadian leader indicated “the special relationship between the United States and Canada that our communities in the North Country know well.”
It was theorized that Biden and Trudeau would discuss the now expired Keystone XL cross-border pipeline expansion project, which Biden squashed with an executive order this week.
Many Canadians and Americans voiced upset with the move, citing lost jobs and opportunity, while others praised it, believing it the right choice environmentally.
At a Friday news conference outside his Rideau Cottage residence, Prime Minister Trudeau urged his nation to look past the project’s cancellation, The Canadian Press reported Friday.
“It’s not always going to be perfect alignment with the United States,” he said. “That’s the case with any given president
“In a situation where we are much more aligned — on values, on focus, on the work that needs to be done to give opportunities for everyone while we build a better future,” he added. “I’m very much looking forward to working with President Biden.”
In her Friday morning statement, Stefanik referenced continued restrictions on Can-Am border crossings, which have blocked nonessential travel between the neighboring nations since last March. The congresswoman urged Biden to discuss the border’s safe reopening with Trudeau.
Restrictions were most recently extended until at least Feb. 21.
The Wilson Center, a Washington, D.C.-based non-partisan policy think tank, announced last month the formation of a bi-national task force that, over the next few months, will develop recommendations for eventually reopening the world’s longest international land boundary to nonessential travel.
The Wilson Task Force on Public Health and the U.S.-Canadian Border was expected to present recommendations for lifting the border restrictions come March.
“As co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus and Representative of New York’s 21st Congressional District, I understand firsthand that bilateral collaboration between the United States and Canada is absolutely critical, especially as we work together to protect public health, safely restart our economy, and defeat the COVID-19 crisis,” Stefanik’s statement reads.
“As we approach one year of border restrictions for non-essential travel, I strongly urge President Biden to commit to a metrics based bilateral plan to safely reopen the U.S.-Canada border as soon as possible.”
The appointment of a new ambassador was likely one of the next steps in the Can-Am arena, Douglas said.
“Traditionally, U.S. Ambassadors to Canada have usually been figures who are personally close to the president, providing a strong channel between the two countries,” he said. “Hopefully, this will be the case once again.”