Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Three Amigos summit will showcase the value of free trade and continental co-operation at a time when liberalized trade is under attack in Europe and the United States.
"We have seen around the world many examples of protectionism, of concern, of stepping away from trade agreements and engagements," Mr. Trudeau told a news conference after holding bilateral talks with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. "People are prone to turning inwards, which will unfortunately be at the cost of economic growth and their own success in many situations."
U.S. President Barack Obama arrives on Wednesday for the one-day North American leaders' summit, which is expected to include steps to fight global warming and to herald the benefits of free trade in the aftermath of last week's vote in Britain to leave the European Union.
Mr. Trudeau said the three leaders want the world to see that open trade and common approaches are "ultimately good for citizens."
"So this relationship, this friendship, this partnership going forward is an example, I think, for the world that better collaboration, better partnerships, are a path to prosperity and that is a compelling example that we want to showcase," Mr. Trudeau said.
The two leaders said they briefly discussed the presumptive Republican nominee for the U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump, who delivered a speech on Tuesday calling NAFTA the "worst trade deal in history" and vowing to get out of it unless it was renegotiated to favour U.S. interests.
"I'm going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don't mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better," Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trudeau said neither he nor Mr. Pena Nieto would publicly criticize Mr. Trump's anti-free trade policies.
"The President and I agreed to work with whomever the American people elect this coming November," Mr. Trudeau said. "Regardless of the eventual winner, from one administration to the next there are changes and there are shifts, but we will engage as we have demonstrated together in a thoughtful and collaborative way."
Mr. Trudeau announced Canada will lift visa restrictions on Mexican visitors by Dec. 1. Mexico will end long-standing restrictions on Canadian beef imports in October.
Mr. Pena Nieto told reporters the removal of these two long-standing irritants in Canada-Mexico relations are examples of how free trade and dialogue "can make a real difference in peoples' lives."
"Canadians will be able to sell their beef to Mexico as of October, and there is now a positive impact on communities who depend on tourism, who will be able to welcome a greater number of Mexican visitors who will come and spend their money here," Mr. Pena Nieto said.
Wednesday's summit will focus on making a continent-wide commitment to cut methane emissions, setting a 50 per cent target for clean-energy power by 2025 and building a North American network of charging stations for electric vehicles.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna wants the federal government essentially to eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions from its own operations as it works with the United States and Mexico on a continentwide climate fight.
In a session with Mexican environment minister Rafael Pacchiano Alaman, Ms. McKenna said Ottawa could do more to become a "net zero" emitter – which involves dramatically reducing fossil-fuel use and buying carbon offsets to balance out its remaining emissions.
Mr. Trudeau said Canada and Mexico also agreed to more student exchanges, and discussed how to improve the lives of indigenous people in both countries. Canada will also share intelligence and offer training to Mexican security forces fighting violent drug cartels.
With a report from Shawn McCarthy