The House of Commons granted unanimous consent Monday to an NDP motion congratulating U.S. president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris on their historic victories, even as the current occupant of the White House refuses to concede.
NDP MP Peter Julian rose after question to call on the House to congratulate Biden and Harris and, “in recognition of the extraordinary relationship between Canada and the United States, call on the government to invite both to visit Parliament and to invite Mr. Biden to address Parliament at the earliest safe opportunity to do so.”
While non-binding on the government, the motion’s passage appears to reflect a desire for strengthened bonds between the incoming U.S. administration and the Canadian government.
Trump only came to Canada once as president
Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump did not visit Canada for an official visit after his election win in 2016, despite an invitation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. However, Trump attended a G7 leaders’ summit in La Malbaie, Que. in 2018 that is perhaps best remembered for his angry tweets calling Trudeau “dishonest” and “weak” hours after the meeting wrapped.
The first foreign trip Barack Obama took as U.S. president was to Ottawa in 2009, while George W. Bush visited America’s southern neighbour, Mexico, for his first presidential trip in 2001.
Obama also addressed Canada’s Parliament during his final months as president in 2016, where his remarks spurred chants of “four more years” and he received a standing ovation for calling on Canada to pay its “full share” to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Julian led the push, given the statement he delivered in the House on Nov. 6, a day before major TV networks called the race for Biden.
Julian said at the time that it was clear the Democratic candidate would prevail, even as votes were being counted in key swing states such as Pennsylvania.
“This brings an end to the nightmare presidency of Donald Trump, someone who embodies dishonesty, misogyny, racism, and xenophobia, and who admires brutal authoritarian regimes,” he said.
“Now is the time for healing and a chance for all humanity to work together to find solutions to challenges we face, including, above all, the existential crisis of climate change.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also raised eyebrows on the day of the U.S. election by publicly calling for Trump’s defeat.
Before question period Monday, Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree delivered a statement lauding Biden and Harris on their wins. Anandasangaree focused most of his remarks on Harris, the first Black woman and first person of Tamil ancestry elected to serve as vice-president.
“In a world that has systematically and repeatedly limited women and especially Black women from achieving their fullest potential, Kamala Harris has shattered the glass ceiling for all,” he said.
Anandasangaree ended his remarks by saying “democracy works” and that the American people have spoken decisively. “We look forward to welcoming President Biden and Vice-President Harris to Canada,” he said.
Tories push Liberals on Keystone XL
Conservatives, meanwhile, wasted no time ramping up pressure on Liberals over Biden’s expressed desire to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, expected to carry 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to Nebraska. Though Trump approved the pipeline’s construction in 2017, the Obama administration — in which Biden served as vice-president — rejected the project in 2015.
Deputy Conservative Leader Candice Bergen charged that while the current U.S. president’s approval of Keystone was a “glimmer of hope” for embattled Canadian energy workers, that hope is now at risk. She asked what the prime minister would do to ensure the project moves ahead south of the border.
Paul Lefebvre, the parliamentary secretary to the natural resources minister, said his message to energy workers is that the Trudeau government “has been and will be unwavering in its support for Keystone XL.” He said that Trudeau discussed the project with Biden during their first call last week.
Still, Bergen accused Trudeau of already adopting a “defeatist tone” when asked about the fate of the project. The prime minister has provided “no reassurances that he will actually fight on behalf of energy workers,” she said, and protect jobs needed now more than ever due to the COVID-19 crisis.
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Lefebvre fired back that the previous Conservative government’s lack of action on climate change is what nearly “doomed” the project. He said the Liberal government’s approach, which includes investments to help the energy sector become more sustainable, are some of the strongest arguments for why the Keystone project should proceed.
Though Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, Trump has refused to admit he lost the election and continues to baselessly claim the contest was “rigged” by widespread voter fraud. His administration has also attempted to stymie a smooth transition of power.
“I won the Election!” Trump falsely tweeted Monday morning.