Biden says US will have ‘no more reliable ally’ than Canada in speech to parliament

President Joe Biden speaks to the Canadian Parliament, Friday, March 24, 2023, in Ottawa, Canada. (Kenny Holston/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

President Biden on Friday trumpeted the importance of the United States’s relationship with Canada, arguing that no two countries in the world have closer ties as the two countries seek to move past the tumultuous four years of the Trump administration.

Biden, in a speech to Canadian parliament, spoke about the shared culture and values that bind the two nations and pointed to joint efforts to support Ukraine, combat climate change, address migration and invest in shared defense systems.

“The U.S. chooses to link our future with Canada because we know that we’ll find no better partner — I mean this from the bottom of my heart — no more reliable ally, no more steady friend,” Biden said, which garnered applause. “And today I say to you, and to all the people of Canada, that you will always, always be able to count on the United States of America. I guarantee you.”

His speech to parliament marked the first time a U.S. president has spoken to Canadian lawmakers since 2016, when then-President Obama visited Ottawa.

Biden routinely drew applause from Canadian officials during his remarks, as he spoke about how the two nations have coordinated on providing military support to Ukraine and imposing sanctions against Russia. 

The president announced the U.S. and Canada would build a “global coalition of like-minded countries” to attack the opioid crisis.

He noted the Inflation Reduction Act, a bill passed last year with only Democratic votes, will provide tax credits for Americans who buy electric cars that are assembled in the U.S. or Canada. 

Biden pointed to billions of dollars in investments in NORAD, which he explained is the only military command in the world shared by two nations, calling it “an incredible symbol in the faith we have in one another.”

On migration, the White House announced the two sides had agreed to alter the terms of the Safe Third Country Agreement to deter an influx of migrants into Canada in the past year.

The president recognized Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in the audience, two Canadian nationals who were detained in China for roughly three years before their release in 2021 after criticism from U.S. and Canadian leaders. Biden said he met with the two men earlier in the day.

The speech reflected a marked difference in the tone of the relationship between the two countries under the Biden administration compared to the previous four years.

Former President Trump routinely sparred with Trudeau and Canadian leaders during his time in office as he imposed tariffs on Canadian imports and sought to rework a trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

The last time a U.S. president visited Canada was June 2018, when Trump attended the Group of Seven (G-7) summit. Trump left that gathering early for a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and he declined to endorse the joint communiqué, tweeting that Trudeau was “meek and mild” and threatening to impose more tariffs against Canada.

Friday’s appearance by Biden featured more light-hearted moments. 

The president opened by greeting lawmakers with a “Bonjour, Canada,” joking that he’d taken four years of French classes but was laughed at the last time he’d attempted to give a speech in the language.

In highlighting the close ties between the two nations, Biden noted there are Canadian teams in Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL.

“I have to say, I like your teams, except the Leafs,” Biden quipped, with his jab at the Toronto hockey team drawing raucous cheers from many in the room.

Tags Canada Joe Biden Justin Trudeau Obama President Joe Biden

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