The White House will host an official state visit for the Canadian Prime Minister this week
When President Obama first spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last October, just days after the young Liberal’s sweeping victory, he reminisced on the early days of his own presidency.
In Trudeau, he saw himself—albeit a younger, less gray version.
“I know Canadians are incredibly inspired by your message of hope and change,” Obama recalled telling Trudeau over the phone, during their first face-to-face meeting in November at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in the Philippines. “I just want to point out that I had no gray hair when I was in your shoes seven years ago. So if you don’t want to have gray hair like me, you have to start dying it soon.”
Trudeau cut in,”So young, and yet so cynical.”
It was a heartwarming moment in early days of their budding partnership, which will culminate with an official state visit at the White House on Thursday. After a day of meetings and a joint press conference at the White House, the Prime Minister and his wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau will attend an official State Dinner hosted by the President and First Lady.
The visit marks the first official state visit from a Canadian Prime Minister in nearly 20 years—Obama and Trudeau’s predecessor, Stephen Harper, had a cordial relationship, but it was tested by the president’s rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the nuclear deal he negotiated with Iran. The two met frequently on the sidelines of conferences and Harper visited the White House, but the prime minister never experienced the pomp and circumstance of an official state visit.
“This is a situation where the president recognized that our relationship with Canada is one of the most important relationships between any two countries in the world,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday. “Given that there’s a new prime minister that was elected to lead the country it only made sense to ensure that he was warmly welcomed here in Washington on his first visit as Prime Minister of Canada.”
Obama administration officials previewed a hearty agenda ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit, with topics ranging from the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) to climate change. The two leaders are also expected to discuss trade, including the Trans-Pacific deal world leaders etched out after years of negotiations.
The Obama administration contends that although Prime Minister Trudeau announced in early February that the country would be ceasing all airstrikes against ISIS operatives, his current strategy aligns with their goals. The Prime Minister tripled the number of ground troops he would make available to train Iraqi security forces and beefed up intelligence in the region.