Trudeau meets with PM of Barbados on first day of Summit of the Americas
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden are charting markedly different paths today at the Summit of the Americas.
Before his leader-level meetings get underway, Biden is sitting down to tape an appearance with talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel.
Trudeau, who arrived in Los Angeles late Tuesday, is getting down to work on environmental priorities with his counterpart from Barbados, Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
Trudeau is also set to attend a roundtable meeting with Latin American and Caribbean leaders to discuss climate change, defending democratic values and promoting gender equality.
Trudeau is also expected to talk with Shilpan Amin, the president of General Motors International, about electric vehicles, the hemisphere’s climate goals and efforts to energize economic growth.
In Ottawa, Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne said it would serve the people of the hemisphere well for countries to do more together to enhance economic integration and export opportunities.
“I think that this is an economic zone where Canada can play a leading role with the Caribbean, with Central America, with South America,” Champagne said on his way into a caucus meeting.
Biden and Trudeau will cross paths later in the day when the president hosts all of the delegations at the official opening ceremony.
Canada, US agree on NORAD upgrades
The meetings mark a whipsaw pivot for Trudeau, who spent Tuesday afternoon in the rarefied air of the Rocky Mountains for meetings with military officials in Colorado.
He and Defense Minister Anita Anand toured the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, the fortified command center that houses part of NORAD, the joint-command continental defense system.
Both countries agree NORAD — the only binational defense system of its kind in the world — is badly in need of upgrades if it is to counter the modern-day threats posed by potential aggressors like Russia and China.
But neither Trudeau nor Anand offered any clues to what sort of timeline might be involved.
Anand would only say “a number of initiatives” are on the table and that a modernization plan would be forthcoming “shortly” — a message she’s been delivering for months.
WATCH | Trudeau addresses reporters at Summit of the Americas
Trudeau and Anand, flanked by NORAD’s US and Canadian commanders, met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a boardroom festooned with images of fighter jets and military insignia.
“I get up every single day, as do all of our other members, knowing that we have the most noble mission on the planet, and that’s defending our homeland,” said US Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, the current joint commander of NORAD and US Northern Command.
The Canadian delegation later visited a granite-encased, concrete-walled NORAD command fortress that seemed more like the lair of a James Bond villain than a military base.
VanHerck presented Trudeau with a hunk of the mountainous rock that surrounds the base, mounted on a platform and adorned with two of the commander’s challenge coins.
“Very impressive,” Trudeau said as officials demonstrated the facility’s imposing blast door — a metre-thick, 20-tonne hydraulic behemoth fortified with 22 thick steel rods that slide shut to ensure an impermeable seal.
Afterward, the prime minister held up the shared responsibilities of NORAD as a perfect illustration of the unique Canada-US relationship.
“We’re seeing a time where the world is shifting rapidly,” Trudeau said — a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, as well as the prospect of hypersonic long-range weapons being developed in Russia and China.
“Whether it’s new threats, new technologies, or shifting geopolitical realities, it becomes all the more important for friends and allies like Canada and the United States to continue working so closely together.”