“The United States has no closer friend than Canada,” Biden said, setting the tone for the get-together conducted by video link between the White House and Trudeau’s office in Ottawa.
Although Covid-19 restrictions kept the two leaders apart physically, they went out of their way to demonstrate that the giant neighbouring countries are back to their traditional closeness after the tension of Trump’s “America First” policies.
“We have a robust agenda today and we’re all best served when the United States and Canada work together and lead together,” Biden said in public remarks before heading into closed-door talks.
Repaying the compliment, Trudeau said they would work “together to get through Covid but also to make sure we’re pulling our weight around the world and making the world a better and safer place for everyone”.
Trudeau thanked Biden – who has put the US back into the Paris climate accord on reducing global carbon emissions – for his policies on global warming.
“US leadership has been sorely missed over the past, uh, past years,” he said in a not so hidden dig at Trump.
The White House is touting that Tuesday’s extensive talks will provide a “road map” for better relations.
Trump, who recategorised Canada and other US allies as competitors, had a sometimes tense personal relationship with Trudeau.
By contrast, Trudeau was the first foreign leader to phone Biden after he won the November election and Trudeau was the first foreign leader the Democrat called after getting into the Oval Office.
The White House emphasised how US-Canada ties play an important role in multilateral settings, from the G7 to Nato, the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and the WTO.
But while Canada is looking forward to more predictable behavior from its largest trading partner, Biden has already introduced his own new source of friction by canceling the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline project, citing environmental concerns.