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Politics N.J.’s Christie seeks stronger U.S.-Canada ties in Ottawa visit

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, accompanied by his son Andrew, lays a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

New Jersey Governor and rumoured presidential hopeful Chris Christie says ties between Canada and the United States should be further strengthened, comments made after a visit with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa.

Mr. Christie had a sit-down meeting with the Prime Minister in Ottawa on Friday before laying a wreath at the National War Memorial in memory of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a soldier shot and killed there on Oct. 22.

Mr. Christie, a Republican, applauded Mr. Harper's leadership and called for stronger American ties with Canada in brief comments to journalists.

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"The Prime Minister and I had a wonderful conversation, and it was a great honour for me to meet him and to be here in Canada and to express to him the same things that I have expressed throughout my visit here and when I'm in the States – which is we have a fabulous relationship with Canada, we should make it even stronger and I admire the Prime Minister greatly for the leadership he's providing here in Canada," Mr. Christie said at the National War Memorial, speaking to as he walked to a waiting vehicle.

Mr. Christie is a rumoured candidate for the Republican nomination leading up the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Asked Friday whether he'll run, he replied: "I haven't made any decisions yet. When I make a decision I'll let you know."

His tour came as New Jersey lawmakers say they found no evidence Mr. Christie was directly involved in the bridge-closing scandal, involving politically motivated traffic jams orchestrated along a key bridge. However, the lawmakers found that two former aides to Mr. Christie acted with "perceived impunity," and could not rule out whether Mr. Christie played a role because they were unable to interview several witnesses.

Asked repeatedly on Friday by journalists about the bridge scandal, Mr. Christie did not respond before getting in his waiting vehicle, which then drove away.

Mr. Christie laid the wreath as his Canadian tour concluded Friday with stops in Ottawa and Toronto. Earlier, he praised Cpl. Cirillo.

"He was the heroic soldier who was gunned down defending the Parliament, the capital and the Canadian people from a vicious and radical attacker," Mr. Christie said in Calgary. "I think it's important for all Americans to say to Canadian soldiers and Canadian people thank your for standing by our side in the war against radical terror."

Mr. Christie began his two-day tour in Calgary on Thursday with a series of events and has repeatedly praised Mr. Harper's leadership. The governor thanked Canada several times in a speech to a Calgary business audience, met with Alberta Premier Jim Prentice and voiced his support for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project.

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He also said he planned to meet with representatives of Canada's power sector, who provided help to New Jersey in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Mr. Christie declared Dec. 5 to be "Canadian Utility Workers Appreciation Day," thanking the 800 Canadian workers to came to his state to help restore power.

It was Mr. Christie's office that released an itinerary of his meeting in Ottawa, while Mr. Harper's office offered no announcement that he would meet with the governor. Mr. Harper was under fire last month from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, a Liberal, after Mr. Harper declined a request from Ms. Wynne for a one-on-one meeting.

Mr. Christie also met with Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Industry Minister James Moore while in Ottawa, according to pictures posted to Twitter by the ministers.

With reports from The Canadian Press and Associated Press

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