Biden and Trudeau discuss migration and protecting democracy

US and Canadian leaders unveil deal to curb illegal migration and announce continued support for Ukraine against Russia

US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa. Reuters
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US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke on protecting democracy as well as the importance of keeping their common border secure in remarks to the Canadian Parliament on Friday, in a day of bilateral meetings.

“We have no greater friend and ally than the United States,” Mr Trudeau said before the meetings.

In remarks made before introducing the President to the parliament, he said: “What makes this such a moment of consequence is that our world, our way of living, is facing multiple threats at the same time.”

For his part, Mr Biden promised that Canada could rely on US support and partnership in defending the freedom of Canadians and Americans.

“We have been the stronghold of liberty, safeguarding the fundamental freedoms that give us our lives, literally, meaning we have gladly stepped into the responsibility of the global leadership,” he said.

“Our shared prosperity is deeply connected to our shared security.”


The two leaders held meetings in Ottawa after making a deal aimed at stopping asylum seekers from breaching the US-Canada land border.

The migration deal, according to a final rule set to be published in the US Federal Register, will allow Canada to turn back immigrants at unofficial crossings.

“We're working together to address the record levels of migration in the hemisphere,” Mr Biden said in his speech.

In recent months, there has been a sharp increase in asylum seekers entering Canada through unofficial border crossings.

Border crossings between the two countries are governed by the Safe Third Country Agreement, which allows US and Canadian officials to turn back asylum seekers in both directions at formal points of entry. But this does not apply to unofficial crossings.

The new deal extends the agreement to the entire border, the longest undefended frontier in the world, for people who claim asylum within 14 days of crossing, according to the notice. It will go into effect at midnight, officials from both Canada and the US said.

As part of the agreement, Canada will take in an additional 15,000 migrants over the next year on a humanitarian basis from the Western Hemisphere, a US official said on Thursday.

“There are more people on the move in the Western Hemisphere [since] World War Two. It's really staggering and it's historic,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told MSNBC on Friday.

'Incredible opportunity to work together'

Canada has an abundance of the critical minerals used to produce batteries and electric vehicles, but China currently dominates the global market, in part reducing their dependence on other countries for minerals and semiconductors.

“I believe we have an incredible opportunity to work together so Canada and the United States can source and supply here in North America everything we need for reliable and resilient supply chains,” Mr Biden said.

Mr Trudeau also lauded US-Canadian unity in supporting Ukraine and said the two allies must continue “to face down authoritarian threats, both at home and abroad”.

“Because climate change, inflation, war, energy shortages, but also foreign interference, misinformation and disinformation are constant attacks on our values and institutions,” he said.

Mr Biden added that, as members of the defence alliance, the two countries would “defend every inch of Nato territory”.

Mr Biden and Mr Trudeau are scheduled to have a joint press conference later this afternoon.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: March 24, 2023, 8:11 PM