Amid tensions between two of the world’s strongest allies, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence reiterated in a formal address that the United States-Canada relationship was a strong “alliance of freedom”, while standing next to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Pence also said that Trudeau held firm while representing Canada throughout tough negotiations with the United States over a new North American Free Trade Agreement, now called USMCA.
It was just one line of many made by Pence that showed public goodwill between Washington and Ottawa amid doubts surrounding the Canadian effort on the trade negotiations.
“There are no two countries as fundamentally linked as ours,” Trudeau, who is facing an election this fall, said, adding that “millions of families” depend on the crucial trade ties between Canada and the United States.
“Let me thank you for your leadership…in our cause of shared prosperity,” the U.S. vice president said from Parliament Hill, his first visit to the country since he was elected with President Donald Trump in 2016.
While it was not mentioned during the formal speeches, Pence and Trudeau addressed questions from reporters around the detention of Hauwei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou and Canadians detained in China.
Pence said that Washington stands with Canada against what Ottawa the considers unfair and arbitrary jailing of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were brought into custody in a tit-for-tat move after Canada arrested the Huawei executive on a U.S. warrant.
On NAFTA, Trudeau aimed to make the point that the ruling Liberals — who are behind in the polls largely due to the SNC-Lavalin political affair — and the ruling U.S. Republicans are united on having strong trade between the countries.
Trudeau’s comments on abortion were brought up. Pence said that there was no ill will between the two countries but he was proud to “be part of a pro-life administration” but that those are debates “within the United States” — emphasizing that he is staying out of domestic issues.
He added “friends can have differences and still be friends”, adding that what “unites the United States and Canada” is the pair’s “commitment to freedom” internationally.