North American Summit in Washington, D.C.


The first North American Summit in five years is in Washington, D.C., this week. This is the first time since 2016 that the three leaders have met for formal discussions. The only major trilateral accomplishment in former President Trump’s term, the renegotiation of NAFTA to the USMCA, was concluded without a formal summit involving the three leaders.

On his first day in Washington, Justin Trudeau was on Capitol Hill with congressional leaders, where Democrats are polishing the details of a massive piece of U.S. legislation that would have domestic and international implications. It’s a U.S. bill worth nearly $2 trillion, and it’s described as the most important legislative act of Joe Biden’s presidency. One specific element of that bill has Canadian policymakers extremely concerned: a substantial and incremental tax credit for electric vehicle buyers that applies only to those vehicles assembled in the U.S.

Canada has been lobbying American lawmakers to either drop or modify that tax incentive, with the argument that it would disrupt existing supply chains. The Canadian Ambassador to the United States, Kristen Hillman, believes that such a tax incentive flies in the face of the new NAFTA agreement.

“We’re laying out the facts about why this is not good for the U.S., it’s not good for U.S. jobs. We’re the number one customer for U.S. vehicles and U.S. auto parts, and there are literally tens of thousands of U.S. jobs that rely on this very robust supply chain. And, frankly, it runs in the face of the commitment that we have just made under the new NAFTA.”

Coincidentally, while Trudeau was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, President Biden will be in Detroit, promoting his agenda at a General Motors electric vehicle plant that would benefit from the credit.

At a White House meeting held Thursday, November 18, a top agenda item is assurances that the Line 5 pipeline keeps flowing to Eastern Canada. Such assurances would counter the bid from Michigan’s state government to shut down the line that runs under the Mackinaw Strait and has a direct route to refineries in Sarnia, Ontario. Canada has invoked the 1977 Pipeline Treaty in defense of that shutdown. Canadian Ambassador Kirsten Hillman says such a shutdown would hurt people and the economy on both sides of the border.

“Canada, as you know, has invoked our pipeline treaty that we have with the United States. And the Department of State and our Department of Global Affairs are setting up the parameters under that treaty. It’s a very important issue to Canadians. That is a very essential piece of infrastructure. Canada cares about the health and safety of the Great Lakes as much as any American. And we believe there’s a way in which we can work to make a safe pipeline even safer.”

However, a spokesman at the White House has says that President will not take any action while the issue plays out in court.