Trudeau embarks on heralded U.S. visit that features a number of firsts

Justin Trudeau's first prime ministerial visit to the United States got underway Wednesday as he stepped off the airplane with his wife and children to begin a trip unique in the recent history of Canada-U.S. relations.

WASHINGTON — Justin Trudeau’s first prime ministerial visit to the United States got underway Wednesday as he stepped off the airplane with his wife and children to begin a trip unique in the recent history of Canada-U.S. relations.

Anticipated announcements on bilateral issues like climate change, next-generation border security and the Arctic are merely one tranche of the story of the three-day trip.

It’s also a snapshot in time. The highlight will be the first state dinner for a Canadian in 19 years at a moment where two sympatico progressive leaders hold office and the Canadian one also happens to be unusually well-known here.

The visit has prompted a rare degree of American media attention. A more gushing example was in the tabloid Politico headline, “Justin Fever Hits Washington,” followed by a story where a senior White House official admitted having a bit of a crush on the young leader from the north.

It also comes so late in Barack Obama’s tenure that one official couldn’t say whether or not this state dinner — the 11th of his presidency — might be his final one.

White House officials offered a tour of the East Room where the dinner will be held it’s the same room where Trudeau’s father was serenaded by Robert Goulet at the after-party during his first state dinner in 1969. The meal will be sprinkled with Canadiana — including a duck-poutine canape and Canadian whisky drizzled over lamb.

Denison Offut said there’s also fertile ground for co-operation on substantive files.

“The leaders are progressive, forward-looking, and have very similar common values and agendas,” said Offut, director for North American affairs.

“Having met … last December there was a natural synergy there. Especially with the followup at the Paris environmental talks.”

Sources say there’ll be multiple announcements after the leaders meet Thursday.

One could revolutionize the way Canadians and Americans enter each other’s country by allowing pre-border customs screening — in train stations, bus stations, on ships and off highways the same way it already occurs in several Canadian airports, with the goal being smoother travel through choke points.

The climate agreements will include components on the Arctic and commitments to reduce methane-gas emissions, and help developing countries cope with the effects with environmental change. Some third-party groups consulted on the trip also expect announcements on clean technology.

The prime minister landed at Andrews Air Force Base and emerged alongside his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau and their three children — Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrien. They stood for the national anthem and departed for a reception near the White House.

He’ll conclude the three-day trip Friday when he lays a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery, speaks to university students and a think-tank audience and meets with senior members of Congress.

Thursday is the main meeting with President Barack Obama in the morning, followed by the state dinner in the evening.

Prime ministerial visits rarely raise a ripple in the U.S. capital but the arrival of this refugee-hugging, self-declared feminist subject of fawning profiles and a Vogue magazine spread is an exception to the rule.

Witness the Politico item, which features an anonymous senior Obama official declaring Trudeau her “new political crush,” saying, “Seriously, with his looks, heart, and mind, he’s dreamy.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, also noted the novelty of Americans paying attention to a Canadian politician.

“For a long time Canadians were a bit obsessed with President Obama,” she told a forum hosted by Politico late Tuesday. “This is just deserts.”

But there are limits to U.S. fascination. While some Canadian news networks ran live footage of Trudeau’s plane on the tarmac, none of the U.S. networks did.

Just Posted

Shipping oil by rail questioned

Red Deer-area mayors respond

Country star Gord Bamford and The Reclaws perform free Games concert Friday

Show starts at 6:30 p.m. in heated dome off Celebration Plaza in downtown Red Deer

Survey looks at social isolation among older men

Partnership between Red Deer College and Golden Circle Resource Centre

Peruvian brothers travel nearly 8,000 km to volunteer at Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Italo and Mirko Del Castillo say Canadian warmth contrasts with twinter cold

Pride Days celebrated for first time at Canada Winter Games on Feb. 21 and 28

Pride Days are another first for Red Deer’s 2019 Canada Winter Games.… Continue reading

Gardening: What are you planting in 2019?

What’s new in plants for 2019? Checking catalogues, greenhouses and stores will… Continue reading

Opinion: I spy another energy hypocrite

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. The mittens provided to… Continue reading

Canada’s bobsleigh team races World Cup on Calgary home track facing closure

CALGARY — Canada’s skeleton and bobsled teams will race a World Cup… Continue reading

Italy becomes ninth international football league to join forces with CFL

TORONTO — Add Italy to the growing list of international football federations… Continue reading

Toronto Defiant Overwatch academy team to be known as the Montreal Rebellion

MONTREAL — The Toronto Defiant’s Overwatch academy team will be known as… Continue reading

Canadian fashion and design insiders recall Karl Lagerfeld’s charm, ingenuity

TORONTO — Several Canadian fashion and design experts who knew couture icon… Continue reading

Millennial Money: Make your funds move at the speed of life

Change is constant — especially when you’re young. Chances are you’ll cycle… Continue reading

TSB says improved tankers involved in Manitoba derailment that spilled crude

ST. LAZARE, Man. — Federal investigators say CN rail cars that spilled… Continue reading

Most Read