Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 9, 2020 in Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be joining European Union leaders for a virtual summit, where they are expected to discuss their shared commitment to international co-operation and what that means ahead of Tuesday’s U.S presidential election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 9, 2020 in Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be joining European Union leaders for a virtual summit, where they are expected to discuss their shared commitment to international co-operation and what that means ahead of Tuesday’s U.S presidential election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Trudeau, EU leaders meet ahead of U.S. election to reinforce support of world order

Trudeau speaking with the European Union’s two top political leaders

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is speaking with the European Union’s two top political leaders today and they are expected to discuss their shared commitment to international co-operation and what that means ahead of Tuesday’s U.S presidential election.

Today’s three-way video conference between Trudeau, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Charles Michel, the European Union Council president, will mark the first formal discussion they have been able to hold since the changing of the guard of Europe’s top political leadership late last year.

In a pandemic-free world, it would have been a formal summit, a followup to last summer’s two-day affair that Trudeau hosted with one of Von der Leyen and Michel’s predecessors, Donald Tusk.

That gathering was marked by gushing displays of Canada-EU political fealty that saw Trudeau and Tusk position themselves as defenders of a world order that has been increasingly under attack from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Now, in the COVID-19 world, Trudeau, Von der Leyen and Michel are poised to send the same signal.

A senior EU official in Brussels, who briefed The Canadian Press ahead of the talks on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said the talks would affirm strong support for the United Nations World Health Organization.

Trump has defunded and derided the WHO as a being a puppet of China because he says it downplayed the severity of the early outbreak of COVID-19.

With the U.S. election taking place next week, the EU official said it will be important for the three leaders to demonstrate their shared support for international organizations, respect of human rights, and support of free trade.

On trade, they will discuss the Canadian-led efforts to reform the World Trade Organization, a process known as the Ottawa Group, said the official.

Canada leads about a dozen like-minded countries in wanting to reform the WTO but it has not invited the U.S. or China to participate. The Trump administration has followed through on a plan that has essentially disabled one of the WTO’s main dispute settlement mechanisms, the Appellate Body.

Because the U.S. is the largest contributor to the WTO, it gets to appoint judges to the body but it has failed to fill vacancies that have existed since December. The result has paralyzed the body because it doesn’t have enough judges to hear disputes.

Trump has called the WTO “horrible” and unfair to the U.S. in settling trade disputes.

Trade Minister Mary Ng convened the latest meeting of the Ottawa Group on Tuesday via video conference.

“Canadians benefit from an open, transparent, and rules-based international trade system with the WTO at its core,” Ng said in a statement.

Canada and the EU have created their own ad hoc replacement body for the Appellate Body in the hopes of attempting to settle disputes.

Lawrence Herman, a Toronto-based international trade lawyer, said the initiative was a good try but it hasn’t replaced what Trump has undermined.

“It only works in a limited way,” said Herman.

“It’s a great idea, given what’s happening in at the WTO. But it doesn’t solve all problems.”

The EU official said the three leaders would also be discussing the rising provocations posed by China.

At the EU’s recent summit with China, the bloc highlighted the plight of imprisoned Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. They were arrested nearly two years ago in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition order.

Canada welcomed the EU support for the release of the “two Michaels,” which came in the final communique of its summit with China. The EU has joined dozens of other countries in supporting Canada’s efforts in publicly calling for their release, a campaign that has angered China.

The EU official said the bloc wants to discuss how it can reinforce its partnership with Canada on dealing with China and defending human rights.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2020.

electionUnited States

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

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

Collin Orthner, manager at McBain Camera in downtown Red Deer, stands behind the store’s counter on Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
A few Red Deer businesses happy with Black Friday results

While this year’s Black Friday wasn’t as successful as it was in… Continue reading

Le Chateau Inc. is the latest Canadian firm to start producing personal protective equipment for health care workers, in a July 3, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Hundreds of millions of dollars for frontline workers yet to be released, says Alberta Federation of Labour

Information recently released by the Alberta Federation of Labour suggests more than… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Man killed in two-vehicle collision near Penhold, says Blackfalds RCMP

A 46-year-old man is dead following a two-vehicle collision on Highway 42… Continue reading

Banff National Park. (The Canadian Press)
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

EDMONTON — A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths on railway tracks… Continue reading

Cows on pasture at the University of Vermont dairy farm eat hay Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. Canadian dairy farmers are demanding compensation from the government because of losses to their industry they say have been caused by a series of international trade deals. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Lisa Rathke
Feds unveil more funding for dairy, poultry and egg farmers hurt by free trade deals

OTTAWA — Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Canada's top doctor says the country is still on a troubling track for new COVID-19 infections as case counts continue mounting in much of the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
COVID-19 cases in Canada remain on troubling course, Tam says, amid rising numbers

Canada’s top doctor says the country is still on a troubling track… Continue reading

hay
Hay’s Daze: Giraffe knows filling wishes can sometimes be a tall order

Last weekend, I had a lovely breakfast. “So what?” you may say.… Continue reading

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says tonight's public video gaming session with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is about reaching young people where they hang. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP leader stoked over ‘epic crossover’ in video gaming sesh with AOC

Singh and AOC discussed importance of universal pharmacare, political civility, a living wage

A south view of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf breaking apart is seen from Ward Hunt Island, Nunavut, in an Aug. 20, 2011, handout photo. The remote area in the northern reach of the Nunavut Territory, has seen ice cover shrink from over 4 metres thick in the 1950s to complete loss, according to scientists, during recent years of record warming. Scientists are urging the federal government to permanently protect a vast stretch of Canada's remotest High Arctic called the Last Ice Area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CEN/Laval University, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Scientists urge permanent protection of Last Ice Area in Canada’s High Arctic

Tuvaijuittuq has the thickest and oldest ice in the Arctic

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s $55 million Lotto Max jackpot

No winning ticket was sold for the $55 million jackpot in Friday… Continue reading

Most Read