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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden arrive at a state dinner on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016 in Ottawa.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

POLITICS BRIEFING

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a dinner for U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden in Ottawa last night, and the two hold a bilateral meeting this morning before meeting the premiers. Mr. Biden shared his experiences with Canadian culture, the Vancouver Olympics and meeting Pierre Trudeau. But Mr. Biden's comments on Mr. Trudeau's place in the world were particularly striking. Here are his comments, towards the end of his speech, for the record.

"And as you look around the world at this ebb and flow, as I've watched in my career, there are periods where the number of genuine leaders on continents are in short supply and when they're in heavy supply.  Right now, right now, I've never seen and I've, in my area of so-called expertise has been the former Soviet Union, Russia now, and, and Europe, I've never seen Europe engaged in as much self-doubt as they are now.

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"The world's going to spend a lot of time looking to you, Mr. Prime Minister, as we see more and more challenges to the liberal international order than any time since the end of World War II.  You and Angela Merkel, there's a lot of, there's a lot of soul searching going on in Europe, and you saw some of it in my country.  But I am absolutely confident that we in North America are better positioned than any time since the end of World War II to lead the world, to lead the hemisphere, to move it to a place in a way that we haven't seen.

"The opportunities are immense, immense, from the cure of cancer to, by the time your children are able to go to the airport on their own, they're going to be flying subsonically at 22,000 miles an hour.  The changes that are going to take place are going to be astronomical.  The progress is going to be made.  It's going to take men like you, Mr. Prime Minister, who understand that has to fit within the context of a liberal economic order, liberal international order, where there's basic rules of the road.

"We're going to get through this period because we're Americans and we're Canadians.  And so [if] I had a glass, I'd toast you by saying vive le Canada, because we need you very, very badly. Thank you."

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW TODAY

> The first big item on the agenda of the first ministers meeting is a climate plan. Almost all of the provinces are endorsing Mr. Trudeau's plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions – except, of course, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall – but a few are starting to balk at the carbon price. Health-care funding and the expiration of the health accord, also a contentious issue, will be another point of discussion.

Read more: Ottawa may have to pay for carbon credits to meet climate targets

> Viola Desmond will be the new face of Canada's $10 bills.

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> A Liberal backbencher is trying to put pressure on the government to finally ban asbestos.

> How many Conservative leadership candidates will survive next week's French-language debate in Quebec City?

> Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says comments from a Canadian spy watchdog are "highly inappropriate."

> After growing then shrinking, the parliamentary press gallery is now about the same size it was in 1994 – 318 people. The major difference has been the big decrease in regional reporters, such as correspondents from the Edmonton Journal or London Free Press.

> These are the professors who consulted on the government's electoral reform survey.

> And the National Post has constructed its own democracy quiz, asking you to agree or disagree with statements like: "Underwater voting should be allowed, even though Canadians cannot breathe underwater."

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WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

Raed al-Saleh (Globe and Mail): "In 2013, the Syrian regime gave us a choice: leave or be killed. For most of our communities, leaving was not an option. But nor was waiting to be killed. So in northern Aleppo, a group of carpenters, bakers, builders and taxi drivers chose to take matters into their own hands. After receiving a week of training from an international NGO and a small equipment pack, they returned to their community. Two days later, they saved a family of four from the rubble. Three years on, the White Helmets are now 3,000 volunteers working in 120 teams across Syria. "

Katherine Maher (Globe and Mail): "If every country had the chance to punch memory holes in the Internet, we would swiftly find ourselves with history scrubbed of essential records. Politicians could challenge ugly but accurate charges. Corporations could erase histories of fraud and double-dealing. The implications are unprecedented."

Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): "Mr. Trudeau now faces two political imperatives when it comes to health funding. One is to provide more than his Conservative predecessor, Stephen Harper, was planning. The other is to trim the annual growth in health transfers from the unsustainable six-per-cent increases of the past decade. For all the posturing that first ministers put into this big money game, the premiers know those are the limits. They keep asking Mr. Trudeau to continue those increases, but they know he won't."

Gary Mason (Globe and Mail): "The short, post-Harper era we have lived through has not been great for the Conservatives. They seem lost and, in some cases, vulnerable to the ravings of a narrow, bigoted fringe disguising itself as disenfranchised Canadians. What the Tories' leadership race seems to demonstrate more each day is that the person best equipped to next lead the party into battle is already in charge."

Anthony Furey (Sun): "Some people have been criticizing the decision to put [Viola Desmond] on our money on the basis that her accomplishments were too minor in the grand scheme of things and she's an insignificant figure. ... But who says it always has to be this way? We don't celebrate the accomplishments and efforts of regular Canadians enough as it is. It's nice to see someone who goes against type."

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Michael Den Tandt (National Post): "This is a mistake, potentially very damaging to Trudeau, his government and their ability to get things done, for this reason: [cash-for-access fundraising] not only cedes the moral high ground but makes a mockery of it. That erodes their standing, not only in the Commons, but ultimately in the real world. The Liberals have too many tough ground battles ahead, put simply, for them to jettison so much political capital, so soon in their mandate."

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Written by Chris Hannay. Edited by Steven Proceviat.

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