Today in Washington, D.C., Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is meeting with U. S. President Donald Trump. This is the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders and the stakes are pretty high. Experts in both countries have been talking about what to except as this powerful pair discuss issues between the nations.
A peaceful history of cooperation
In many ways, Canada and the United States are some of the very best neighbours around. They share the longest unprotected border in the world. Citizens visit each other's nations freely. Sports leagues like the NHL and NBA have American and Canadian teams. And for well over a century, the countries have been active in so many common causes: peacekeeping, trade and business, diplomacy. It is rare for two countries to get along so smoothly, and for so long.
A new era
Former president Obama and Trudeau bonded immediately and famously. (We even joked about them having a sleepover once!)
But under president Trump, America's policies are shifting. The new president has an approach and priorities that are very different to either Trudeau or Obama. That means that this is a fresh—and challenging—start for Trudeau.
What will they discuss?
Their meeting will cover some very important topics: trade (the exchange of goods between two countries), jobs, and women in the workplace.
Trump has openly said that he wants to renegotiate (or even end) NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement, which allow open trade between Canada, the United States, and Mexico). Trade between the U.S. and Canada is a huge part of each country's business and job market. How will Trudeau handle this challenge?
The women in the workplace roundtable will be of interest, as well. This will feature ten top female CEO (chief executive officers) from both countries. They will discuss with the two leaders ways to make the future brighter for women in the job market. Though things have been steadily improving overall, women still make less money on average than men do.
The immigration issue
The issue of immigration (whether or not people from other countries are allowed to enter and live in a country) is not officially on the agenda. But nearly all experts expect it to still play a role in this meeting. Why?
Trump has been very outspoken about immigration, and his new policies have already caused huge controversies. Trudeau responded to these controversies by tweeting that immigrants who couldn't enter the U.S. were welcome in the Canada. This means that Trudeau may need to carefully explain his position to Trump.
In the end, still neighbours
This is a big political event that could decide a lot about how these two countries get along for the next four years. But for anyone worried about how Canada-U.S. relations might turn out, here are some helpful thoughts. For starters, last week's visit by Canadian Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan to U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis went extremely well.
And for all of their friendliness, these nations don't always see eye-to-eye. For example, in 2002, Prime Minister Jean Chretien greatly disappointed President George W. Bush by refusing to send Canadian troops to Iraq during the American-led invasion there. But in the end, Canada and the United States always seem to find a way to work through differences.