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The Biden-Trudeau meeting & the road ahead for the US-Canada relationship

Today President Joe Biden held his first bilateral with Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau. To discuss the road ahead for the US-Canada relationship, and what it might foreshadow for the many bilaterals we're going to see in the coming weeks as Biden rolls out his foreign policy agenda, Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of US political and policy developments, is joined by Eurasia Group Vice Chairman Gerald Butts, who was Trudeau's Principal Secretary until 2019, in a special edition of US Politics In (a little over) 60 Seconds.

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The US and Canada’s complicated love story

US President Joe Biden has said he wants to patch up a US-Canada relationship that frayed under Trump. In fact, Biden's first phone call to a foreign leader after taking office was to Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. That makes sense, considering the two long-allied democracies share a continent and do some $700 billion in annual trade across the world's longest land border.

Biden and Trudeau — who was best buddies with Barack Obama, Biden's former boss — share views in many areas, from human rights and democracy promotion to, in principle, climate change. But a host of issues will make it hard to smooth things over completely. What are the main sticking points between Ottawa and Washington right now?

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Keystone XL halt is no threat to US-Canada ties under Biden; Brazil's vaccine shortage

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

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What We’re Watching: Trudeau hangs on, Mali sanctions lifted, US stimulus uncertainty

Canadian government survives confidence vote: Against the backdrop of intense political discord and an ethics controversy that caused his approval ratings to plummet in recent months, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government will live to see another day after surviving a confidence vote in parliament. Building on a "bold" plan for Canada's post-pandemic revival delivered last month (which many analysts criticized as lacking sufficient detail), Trudeau presented his plan for economic and social recovery — including the creation of 1 million new jobs in the near term — in what's called a parliamentary "Throne Speech." After some political wrangling, his minority Liberal government held on after a 77-152 vote, avoiding a snap election thanks to the support of the left-leaning New Democratic Party. A string of ethics scandals (in which the PM was found to have violated federal conflict of interest rules) has cratered support for Trudeau, a former darling of the center left. We're watching to see whether his ambitious recovery initiative will also steer Trudeau's own political bounce back.

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Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus; Trudeau assassination attempt

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, has coronavirus. What are your thoughts and where does this leave Brazil?

Well, I mean, you know, if coronavirus was karmic, and I don't believe that, Bolsonaro would be the president you kind of expect would get it, right? Because he's been saying, "it's just a little flu, don't worry about it, I don't need to wear a mask, everyone can come out and rally, we can hug, we can hold hands, we can shake hands with no problem." He's been doing that for months now and he's exposed to an awful lot of people, both in Brazil and internationally, including in the United States when he traveled to meet with President Trump in Mar a Lago. And now he's taken the test. The 65-year-old president has coronavirus.

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GZERO Exclusive: Trudeau Defends Free Trade, Immigration and His Credibility Amidst Scandals

As his reelection campaign reels in the wake of recently surfaced blackface and brownface images, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided an exclusive response to GZERO Media's Ian Bremmer, host of the weekly foreign affairs program GZERO World.

In an email exchange transcribed below, PM Trudeau addressed the credibility gap the pictures and video from his past have created.

Ian Bremmer: How seriously can anyone take your passionate speeches on respect for diversity after seeing these images?

PM Justin Trudeau: Actions speak louder than words. I know that my actions in the past have been hurtful to people, and for that I'm deeply sorry. Our government has acted to fight discrimination and racism consistently over our first term, and if we earn the right to govern Canada again, we'll move forward to fight racism and discrimination in our next term.

Ian Bremmer: Can you remain credible on multiculturalism in Canada in light of this?

PM Justin Trudeau: That's for Canadians to judge. I will be spending the next few weeks working hard to earn their trust.

The exchange came following a new and wide-ranging interview Bremmer conducted in Canada's capital, Ottawa. As Canada approaches election day on October 21, the race is extremely close. His opponent, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, has capitalized on scandals and the diminishing popularity of some of Trudeau's signature policies—on immigration, trade, and the economy.

The complete, exclusive interview is featured on the next episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer, which airs nationwide on public television beginning this Friday, September 27. Their conversation is also the basis of the latest Time magazine international cover story, written by Ian Bremmer, about Trudeau's battle to defend his globalist agenda as populism rises abroad.

As poll numbers suggest Canadians are increasingly disenchanted with Trudeau's approach to the global refugee crisis, the Canadian leader stood firm in his assertion that a more diverse population will make his nation stronger. Trudeau also delivered pointed criticism of the current economic policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, calling them unsustainable.

"Inequality continues to grow everywhere around the world," he said. "But it's growing less in Canada than it is in the U.S., and that is because we made a decision to say, 'trickle down doesn't work.'"

GZERO WORLD with Ian Bremmer airs nationwide on public television Fridays beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Check local listings. The interview will also be published in full on gzeromedia.com on Monday, September 30, at 10 a.m. ET.

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