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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with U.S. President Joe Biden leave at joint news conference at the North American Leaders Summit on Jan. 10, 2023, in Mexico City, Mexico.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

U.S. President Joe Biden will land in Ottawa on Thursday afternoon with a message for Canada to ramp up the speed and scale of its continental air-defence modernization and with the goal of charting a path forward in the response to crisis-torn Haiti.

In his first visit to Canada as president, Mr. Biden will arrive with first lady Jill Biden for a series of meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and various senior government officials and cabinet ministers. He will also make a speech to Parliament Friday and have a brief meeting with Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

The leaders have a hefty agenda for the two-day visit, and are expected to also focus their talks on the transition to a clean economy, including building a critical-mineral supply chain, and trade irritants such as protectionist Buy America provisions.

Ahead of the meetings, the two governments have signaled that they expect the leaders will make progress on the thorny issue of irregular migration, which is increasingly becoming an issue in both directions at the Canada-U.S. border. Background briefings from senior Canadian and U.S. officials ahead of the visit show the two governments hold a similar perspective on the need to both address the irregular migration at the border and the root causes of the waves of migrants leaving Central and South America.

However, the governments appear further apart on defence spending. Ahead of the meeting with Mr. Biden, senior U.S. administration officials told reporters in a background briefing that while the U.S. was pleased to see Canada commit $4.9-billion to upgrade NORAD’s outdated defences, the White House is focused on the size and timing of that spending.

The officials said the U.S. wants to ensure the upgrades are made in time for the delivery of Canada’s newly purchased F-35s. The first of those fighter jets are scheduled to arrive in 2026.

On Monday, The Globe reported that Canada believes the previously announced money to modernize the North American Aerospace Defense Command is significant. But the American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, noted that a lot has changed since that announcement last year, including the case of an alleged Chinese spy balloon that entered U.S. airspace. They also pointed to a Globe report that the Canadian military found and retrieved Chinese monitoring buoys in the Arctic last fall.

The President’s visit was meant to serve as a channel-changer for the Prime Minister who has been under fire since February over a series of reports in The Globe and Mail based on secret and top-secret CSIS documents detailing Chinese government interference in Canadian elections. Instead, on the eve of Mr. Biden’s arrival, the minority Liberals lost a caucus member following allegations from Global News related to MP Han Dong’s interactions with a Chinese diplomat.

Mr. Dong denies the allegations and the Globe has not independently confirmed the Global News reporting.

Mr. Trudeau has said that he and the president will discuss China during their meetings. U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen told CTV’s Question Period with Vassy Kapelos that China and Russia have been interfering in democratic elections around the world, including in the United States and Canada for at least the past five years.

“I almost think it’s not even worth asking the question about whether there’s interference. I think the better question is what’s the interference been targeted to, and has it had any impact,” he said.

Canadian post-election reports have determined that the foreign meddling did not have a material impact on the election result and political leaders, including the Conservatives, have said they accept the outcome of the lastest federal election.

On Thursday, the president and Dr. Biden will first meet with Governor-General Mary Simon before being hosted by Mr. Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, at the Prime Minister’s Rideau Cottage residence late Thursday evening.

On Friday, Mr. Biden will give a speech to Parliament he will also hold bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister and the two will hold a joint-press conference.

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