U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden's visit to Ottawa this week is intended to reassure the public that the bond between the two countries is strong, but Canada's Conservative opposition warns the trip could sabotage the country's relationship with the incoming Trump administration.
Mr. Biden will be celebrated at an official dinner in Ottawa on Thursday, and on Friday will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the country's premiers already in town to discuss climate change at a first ministers' meeting.
Kate Purchase, Mr. Trudeau's director of communications, said the dinner will reflect the depth of Canada-U.S. ties and "making sure that there is continuity in the relationship."
But one opposition MP is concerned Mr. Biden's visit could jeopardize future relations with president-elect Donald Trump.
"The only thing I would be worried about is that no steps are taken to somehow sabotage the Canada-U.S. relationship. That would be a huge mistake. I would hope that's not the purpose of Mr. Biden's meeting," Conservative MP Ed Fast, the former trade minister, told The Globe and Mail.
"We just want to make sure that whatever meetings Mr. Biden holds here in Canada are focused on building the Canada-U.S. relationship, and the relationship with the future administration – the Donald Trump administration."
The outgoing Vice-President's presence in the capital a little more than a month before Mr. Trump takes over the White House is seen as an effort to "calm the waters," said Liberal MP Wayne Easter, co-chair of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group.
"Given the kind of campaign there was in the United States, I think on both sides of the border they may see a need for a reassurance," Mr. Easter said.
Mr. Trump campaigned on a promise to tear up the North American free-trade agreement and vowed to abandon U.S. commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Accord, among other issues.
When asked if he thought Mr. Biden would be visiting Canada if Mr. Trump hadn't won, Mr. Easter answered, "Quite honestly, I'd be very doubtful if he would have."
"I don't think the necessity of that trip would be seen in the same light," he said.
Still, Mr. Easter said the true direction of Mr. Trump's policies won't be felt for months.
"My advice is look, stay calm. This will start to work itself through. The reality of governance is a lot different than what can happen in a political campaign, especially when you have a candidate like president-elect Trump who has never been in that political arena before," he said.
Cabinet ministers in Mr. Trudeau's government said Wednesday they welcomed the chance to hear from Mr. Biden as he prepares to leave office.
"We look forward to him perhaps sharing his perspectives in this time of transition," Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters.
"I'm sure that we'll have an opportunity to speak to him and ask him some questions, so it, I think, is going to be very valuable for Canada."
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said there are always important cross-border issues for Canada and the United States to discuss.
"So keeping that relationship in very good shape, whether it's at the beginning of a new administration or at the end of a departing administration, all of that is high on the agenda for Canada," he said.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said Mr. Biden's visit is a positive sign of the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship.
"I'm sure Mr. Biden will have all sorts of information to share with the Prime Minister and his observations about what the state of play is for the next four years. They always say 'May you live in interesting times.' Well, we're certainly going to head into interesting times," he said.
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney, who has known both Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden for years, called the Vice-President "one of the great politicians of all time.
"He's a very wise man, and he's a thoughtful, generous guy. And I think that he can be helpful in giving advice to our government," Mr. Mulroney told reporters this week in Ottawa.
"He knows everyone in Washington. He's treated everybody with courtesy, kindness, over a 40-year career. I saw that he was saying the other day that he might run again for president. Well, I don't know. Joe is just about my age, so what the hell?"