US, Canada recognise responsibility to strengthen democracies at home: Biden

Lalit K Jha
·3-min read

Washington, Feb 24 (PTI) The United States and Canada, as leading democracies, recognise their responsibility to defend their shared values around the world and to strengthen their own democracies at home, US President Joe Biden has said as he hosted his first-ever virtual bilateral summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Prime Minister Trudeau and I share an unwavering faith in the capacity of our peoples to meet the challenges of this new age if we lead with our core strengths: our democratic values, our diverse and dynamic peoples,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday after his meeting with the Canadian prime minister, who was also present virtually during the media opportunity.

“We both recognise our responsibility, as leading democracies, to defend our shared values around the world and to strengthen our own democracies at home. That means rooting out systemic racism and unconscious bias from our institutions and our laws, as well as our hearts,” Biden said.

Canada and the US are not only vital partners, bit also NATO allies committed to shared defence, he said, adding that they discussed their work with the European allies to bolster transatlantic security.

The two leaders also agreed to modernise the North American Aerospace Defence Command -- NORAD -- which is still the only bi-national military command of its kind.

They will launch an expanded US-Canadian Arctic dialogue to cover issues related to continental security, economic and social development, and Arctic governance.

Biden said he and Trudeau explored bilateral partnership to reinforce and help drive issues of concern in the hemisphere and globally.

“That includes coordinating our approaches to better compete with China and to counter threats to our interest and values,' he said.

Biden also reiterated US' support for the release of two Canadians -- Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig -- detained in China on charges of endangering state security.

'Human beings are not bartering chips. We're going to work together until we get their safe return,” he said.

“Canada and the United States will stand together against the abuse of universal rights and democratic freedoms. We're going to strengthen our shared commitment to providing safe haven for refugees and asylum seekers, and so much more,” Biden said.

Trudeau said they discussed the ambitious new partnership roadmap, based on shared values and priorities, that will guide the two countries work together over the coming years.

“In the face of COVID-19, of climate change, of rising inequality, this is our moment to act. So we're not wasting any time in getting down to work. Job one remains keeping people safe and ending this pandemic,” he said.

Biden and Trudeau discussed collaboration to beat COVID-19 -- from keeping key supplies moving and supporting science and research to joint efforts through international institutions.

“We're standing united in this fight. The President (Biden) and I are on the same page when it comes to standing up for the middle class and people working hard to join it,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau said they also discussed leveraging supply chains and support for businesses to create well-paying jobs and help people who've been hardest hit get back on their feet.

“We're facing tough times, there's no doubt, but we're not facing them alone. Canada and the United States are each other's closest allies, most important trading partners, and oldest friends,” he said. PTI LKJ SCY SCY