Joe Biden is coming to Canada later this year
US President Joe Biden will make an official visit to Canada in March, his first trip to the country since becoming president in January 2021.
News of the trip – confirmed by officials on both sides of the border on Tuesday – was accompanied by an announcement that Canada will purchase a US missile defense system for Ukraine.
These developments stem from a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Biden at the North American Leaders Summit in Mexico City.
During that meeting, according to a reading from the Prime Minister’s Office, Trudeau invited Biden to Canada. The duo of world leaders also discussed cross-border trade, competitiveness and supply chains.
TRUDEAU’S INVITATION FOLLOWING THE REQUEST OF MP
While Biden’s visit was delayed in part by COVID-19 travel restrictions, the trip marks a return to a usual practice of newly elected US presidents traveling north at the start of their terms.
Former US President Donald Trump did not make an official visit to Canada during his time in the White House, but did come for a brief but memorable G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec. in 2018.
Biden was last in Ottawa on official business when he was guest of honor at a state dinner in December 2016 – just weeks before Trump took office – where he exclaimed “Long live Canada”.
In 2020, on the heels of their election, MPs unanimously agreed to invite Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to visit Canada as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic is under control in both countries.
At the time, MPs invited Biden to address parliament. It remains to be seen whether his itinerary will include an address in Ottawa. The last US president to address Canadian parliamentarians was Barack Obama, in June 2016.
CANADA PURCHASES US MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM FOR UKRAINE
The last world leader to address Canadian parliamentarians, however, was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
During his virtual address last March, Zelenskyy implored the federal government to further help his country in its fight against the ongoing Russian attacks and to “close the sky” on Ukraine.
Although not the NATO-led no-fly zone he was seeking, Trudeau announced on Tuesday that Canada would purchase an American-made National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) for Ukraine.
Defense Minister Anita Anand said she heard directly from his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov that “air defense systems are Ukraine’s top priority”.
Designed to help protect populated areas and critical infrastructure from drone, missile and aircraft attacks, the equipment and associated ammunition Canada is donating to Ukraine – the first such donation the Trudeau government made to the beleaguered country – is valued at around $406 million.
This funding will come from the additional $500 million in military aid to Ukraine announced by Trudeau in November 2022.
“Canada will continue to work with the United States, as well as other allies and partners, to meet Ukraine’s short- and long-term defense priorities, including with high-capability equipment such as the NASAMS,” Anand said in a statement.
Welcoming Canada’s decision to provide “a strong shield for our cities and citizens”, Zelenskyy thanked Trudeau to “help us protect our skies”.
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