Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet British Prime Minister David Cameron in his first full bilateral visit to the head of a foreign government – and he can expect a welcome for his new climate-change policies.
Although Mr. Trudeau has already begun a whirlwind of travel to international summits, the first head-to-head visit is usually considered symbolic, and Canadian prime ministers often like to make it a sojourn to the White House.
But Mr. Trudeau will make Britain his first stop for a leader-to-leader visit when he meets Mr. Cameron in London on Wednesday – the same day he will have an audience with the Queen.
"This is the first bilateral visit for Mr. Trudeau as Prime Minister, and it's to the U.K. And that's unusual – it's usually down south," British High Commissioner Howard Drake said. "I think it testifies to how much the two countries matter to each other."
Mr. Cameron, a Conservative who saw eye to eye with former prime minister Stephen Harper on many matters, will welcome a change in one area where they differed: climate-change policy. Now, he will have an ally in Mr. Trudeau at the upcoming Paris talks on a global climate-change agreement, Mr. Drake said.
"We are now in a situation where the federal Canadian government views on this are very, very similar to the U.K.'s own for what we should get out of Paris," he said. "Now that is a development that is hugely welcome."
It is important to see a country like Canada, a large economy and a large emitter of greenhouse gases, promise more ambition now, he said: "Yes, it isn't the U.S. or China, but it's Canada. It's an advanced G7 economy sending the right message to the world, and that matters."
Mr. Trudeau has shifted Canada's approach on climate, but the specifics have yet to come. He has promised to work out a plan for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions with premiers, and will meet with them in Ottawa on Monday. He has also invited them to attend the beginning of the Paris talks next week.
Britain is expressing understanding for the fact that Mr. Trudeau's emissions-reduction targets will be the same as Mr. Harper's, and that the plan is still to come, because he's a new Prime Minister who has to consult the provinces. "Fair dues – they've taken office four weeks before the major conference and with a constitutional structure that makes it difficult to get where they want to go," Mr. Drake said.
Aside from historic ties, Canada and Britain share a close defence and intelligence relationship. And Mr. Cameron made a point on taking office of seeking to revive friendships with Canada and Australia, two old allies.
But there are issues on which Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Cameron are not quite on the same wavelength. Since the Paris attacks, the British Prime Minister has spoken about stepping up air strikes on the Islamic State, including asking Parliament to approve expanding the strikes from Iraq to Syria. Mr. Trudeau has pledged to withdraw Canadian CF-18s from the air campaign.
In tone at least, Mr. Trudeau's actions clash with the British message that the Paris attacks, as Mr. Drake said, "could just as easily be London, it could be Berlin, it could be Toronto." Britain believes there are many ways to confront the threat, he said. "We think the military action is part of that."
However, Mr. Drake played down the difference between allies, saying the important thing is that Mr. Trudeau has said Canada remains committed to the fight against the Islamic State. He noted that the Prime Minister has said Canada is planning to increase other military actions, such as training. "Let's see what Canada decides to do," he said. "Each country has to take its own view."