Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Washington concludes today after he, his wife and a Canadian A-list dined at the White House last night at a state dinner. He visited Arlington National Cemetery Friday and held a Q&A with students at American University before a speech at an event organized by the Canada 2020 think tank.
Here’s Laura Stone’s report on last night’s dinner (and the after-party), Robert Fife’s analysis of the political bonds between the two men and Paul Koring on the bad jokes and bonhomie they shared. Follow Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife, Laura Stone and Campbell Clark on Twitter and Globe Politics on Facebook for more stories, photos and video from the trip.
WHAT YOU’VE MISSED SO FAR
Day 1: Sunny ways in Washington
The Canadian delegation got a warm reception in Washington upon their arrival Wednesday (literally so; the capital’s weather was unseasonably hot).
In the evening, the visit kicked off with a cocktail party at the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery. Grammy award-winning Canadian musician the Weeknd was in attendance.
It’s wonderful to see so many people here tonight to celebrate this extraordinary friendship between our two countries. We share so much in terms of values, in terms of perspectives, in terms of priorities, with just enough differences to keep us on our toes on either side of the border.Justin Trudeau, in a speech at the Renwick Gallery Wednesday night
The event was organized by Canada 2020, an Ottawa-based think tank run by Mr. Trudeau’s close friend Tom Pitfield. The Liberals fished for donations with a lottery for tickets to the events. (Here’s Campbell Clark’s take on Washington’s Justin Trudeau sweepstakes and how the Liberals have been promoting it.)
Also on Wednesday, media were given a preview of the next day’s state dinner:
Day 2: ‘It’s about time, eh?’
The Trudeaus arrived at the White House Thursday morning for a welcome ceremony including a military band, a 19-gun salute, a fife-and-drum contingent in Revolutionary War garb and an honour guard. Mr. Obama gave a jovial introduction to his Canadian counterpart; amid unseasonable warmth, he recalled that his first foreign trip as president was, unfairly, to Ottawa in February. He also made some pointed remarks about the current whereabouts of the Stanley Cup. ( Here’s a full transcript of what he said, and how Mr. Trudeau responded.)
Where’s the Stanley Cup right now? I’m sorry. Is it in my hometown with the Chicago Blackhawks? In case you were wondering. In case you Canadians were wondering, where is it?Barack Obama
Later in the morning, Mr. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, joined first lady Michelle Obama later for an event promoting Let Girls Learn, a U.S. foreign-aid initiative that aims to promote education for girls. Ms. Obama introduced Ms. Grégoire-Trudeau as “my soul mate right now.”
In the afternoon, Mr. Trudeau joined U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for a state department luncheon. Mr. Kerry doubled down on effusive praise for the Canadian Prime Minister.
He has a favourability rating that is equal to that of Wayne Gretzky and Rachel McAdams, and well ahead of Justin Bieber. It is very, very clear he has a lot of fans here in the United States.John Kerry
The event also answered Mr. Obama’s question about the whereabouts of the Stanley Cup:
The main event: Thursday’s state dinner
Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Grégoire-Trudeau were welcomed into the White House on Thursday for an elegant state dinner in their honour with the Obamas. In his speech, Mr. Trudeau thanked Mr. Obama for his leadership on climate change and urged Americans to embrace their differences. (He also made a significant slip in thanking Mr. Obama on behalf of “36 million Americans.” His principal secretary, Gerald Butts, confirmed that he meant to say “Canadians.”)
We believe, Canadians and Americans, in the fundamental truth that diversity can be a source of strength. That we are thriving and prosperous countries not in spite of our differences but because of them.Justin Trudeau
Celebrity attendees included actors Michael J. Fox, Sandra Oh, Ryan Reynolds and Mike Myers. Check here for a gallery of who was there.
State dinners, Washington’s highest diplomatic honours, can be lavish affairs that take months to plan (the date for this one was announced officially in December), and the Obamas haven’t held many – only nine in Mr. Obama’s two terms in office. Thursday’s is the first such event since Jean Chrétien was invited by Bill Clinton in 1997. More than just a party, a state dinner is also an occasion to get serious political business done, Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife explains. (Here’s Paul Koring’s primer on how past U.S. presidents have used state dinners to strengthen or affirm national relationships.)
Sophie and I could not have asked for a better evening. Thank you to the President &— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 11, 2016
First Lady for your warmth, friendship & hospitality.
Day 3: Goodbye to Washington
Mr. Trudeau started Friday with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
PAUL CHIASSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Later in the day, he spoke with students at American University, where he said Mexico should play an important role in the continental energy strategy he and Mr. Obama had touted earlier in the visit. He also spoke about settling Syrian refugees, investing in science and why men should step up and act like feminists. “It’s 2016, guys,” he said.
PAUL CHIASSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Later, Mr. Trudeau gave a speech at a lunch event by Canada 2020 and the Center for American Progress.
Fear is easy. Friendship? That takes work. But Canada and the United States have proven, time and time again, that finding common ground is worth the effort.Justin Trudeau
Line up of guests waiting for a selfie with the PM pic.twitter.com/rgT7OgUmz9— Laura Stone (@l_stone) March 11, 2016
WHAT DID THEY WEAR?
Foreign visitors’ fashion decisions can be closely scrutinized at state dinners, and Ms. Grégoire-Trudeau has used past public appearances to highlight Canadian designers. This trip was no exception, from the custom suit she wore on her arrival to the Lucian Matis dress she wore to the state dinner. Here’s Globe Style’s Nathalie Atkinson’s take on how she waved Canada’s fashion flag in Washington, and her roundup of seven of her most memorable fashion moments leading up to and during the visit.
ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES
WHAT DID THEY BRING?
The Trudeaus’ gifts to the Obamas included:
- for Mr. Obama, a sculpture from Cree artist Leo Arcand of Alexander First Nations reserve in Alberta;
- for Ms. Obama, a beaded cape from indigenous artist Tammy Beauvais of Kahnawake, Quebec;
- for Malia and Sasha Obama, scarves from Ottawa designer Krista Norris;
- for the Obama’s dogs, Bo and Sunny, Muttluks dog boots.
WHO WENT TO WASHINGTON?
In addition to the Prime Minister and his family, several cabinet ministers went on this trip:
- Navdeep Bains (Science);
- Marie-Claude Bibeau (International Development);
- Stéphane Dion (Foreign Affairs);
- Chrystia Freeland (International Trade);
- Ralph Goodale (Public Safety);
- Mélanie Joly (Heritage);
- Catherine McKenna (Environment);
- Harjit Sajjan (Defence); and
- Hunter Tootoo (Fisheries).
Mr. Trudeau’s mother, Margaret Trudeau, and Ms. Grégoire-Trudeau’s parents were at the state dinner too.
Standing ovation for Margaret Trudeau. Obama thanks her for mental health advocacy. pic.twitter.com/SzUvZ3yJDM— Laura Stone (@l_stone) March 11, 2016
There was also David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the United States; his spouse, Leslie Noble; Ottawa’s top bureaucrat, Michael Wernick; millionaire philanthropist Stephen Bronfman; and Anna Gainey, president of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Five staffers from the Prime Minister’s Office joined Mr. Trudeau on this trip: chief of staff Katie Telford, principal secretary Gerald Butts, foreign policy adviser John Hannaford, deputy chief of staff Jeremy Broadhurst and director of communications Kate Purchase. (If you need a refresher on how Mr. Trudeau’s inner circle works, here’s Adam Radwanski’s primer on who’s who in the PMO.)
WHAT WAS THIS FOR, ANYWAY?
Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Obama were effusive about their common political outlook, and used the visit to announce joint efforts on several fronts:
Climate change: Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Obama were key participants in last fall’s Paris conference on climate change, where Canada made ambitious promises on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions that the Liberals are now trying to follow through on in an agreement with the provinces. On Thursday,the White House announced joint measures to cut methane emissions and sign the Paris deal “as soon as possible,” and at the leaders’ joint news conference Mr. Obama spoke of the need to protect the Arctic from climate change.
Border deal: The two countries said Thursday that they plan to clear up confusion over mistaken identities on no-fly lists and move ahead with long-promised measures to keep closer track of when citizens cross the border. They will also proceed with customs pre-clearance initiatives aimed at making border processing easier for low-risk travellers. The pre-clearance arrangements, outlined in broad terms last year, would increase the American customs presence on Canadian soil and are expected to see Canada establish similar operations in the United States. In an interview about the new border agreement before the trip, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said it would address concerns about confidentiality raised by the Privacy Commissioner over information-sharing with U.S. security agencies.
Softwood lumber: “This issue will get resolved in some fashion,” Mr. Obama said Thursday with Mr. Trudeau beside him. Canada’s 2006 softwood-lumber agreement expired last October; without a new one, Canadian lumber producers could face new tariffs. The two leaders committed to a new agreement within 100 days. That came as a relief to B.C. Premier Christy Clark: “British Columbians have worked really hard to make sure the softwood lumber agreement was on the Prime Minister’s agenda, and he listened,” Ms. Clark said Thursday.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The Prime Minister will soon get a chance to repay Mr. Obama’s hospitality. Mr. Trudeau invited the President to address a joint session of Parliament when Canada plays host to the North American Leaders’ Summit, commonly known as the Three Amigos summit. “I look forward to the opportunity to speak directly to the Canadian people about the extraordinary future that we can build together,” Mr. Obama said.
With reports from Laura Stone, Robert Fife, Campbell Clark, Shawn McCarthy, Justine Hunter, Ann Hui, Evan Annett and The Canadian Press