OTTAWA – Canada will push the incoming Trump administration to be an ally in the fight against climate change and that’s not undermined by hosting U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, says Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion.
“We were able to agree with a lot of initiatives with the current administration, the Obama one. We will work with the Trump administration,” Dion told The Canadian Press in an interview from Hamburg, Germany on Thursday.
Dion spoke as Biden was about to touch down in Ottawa, where is to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before addressing provincial premiers and aboriginal leaders at a Friday summit.
“We will try to convince the Trump administration to go ahead in the fight against climate change and avoid greenhouse gas emissions,” Dion said.
“We have a lot of clean energy to sell … to our American friends, and we’ll make it very clear that it’s the way to go.”
Canada and the U.S. have been strong climate change allies in the last year, with Trudeau earning praise from Barack Obama for his role in helping negotiate the Paris accord to lower greenhouse gases last year.
Trump has said he would cancel the Paris accord, calling human-made climate a hoax. Two days before his election victory last month, Trump Tweeted that “global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
Trump has appointed Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt – an opponent of Obama’s climate change policies – to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“The EPA is an admirable institution, very effective, a source of inspiration for Canada,” Dion said.
Dion made it clear that Canada will try to make a business case for the environment to engage the billionaire, deal-making businessman who will soon occupy the White House.
“A point we will make is how much the environment and the economy are going together now,” Dion said. “We have to think about jobs when we fight climate change.
“It’s a point we’ll make with the new U.S. administration. It’s a way to engage them.”
Hosting Biden doesn’t run counter to that aim, Dion said, because it will help Canada bridge the transition between the two administrations.
“We need to speak with the vice-president. There is no concern.”
But one Canadian aboriginal leader said Biden is wasting his time by coming to the Friday meeting.
“Clearly we know that the U.S. government just went through an election and Joe Biden is essentially a lame duck,” said Isadore Day, Ontario regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations and the organization’s co-chair on the climate change file.
Green party Leader Elizabeth May said the visit gives Biden and Trudeau a chance to send positive signals to Trump on climate change.
In an interview, she said she hoped they “leave an opening for Donald Trump to recant his worst statements and actually think things through and come get to know Canada, and be welcome in a country that has a significant relationship of benefit to both economies.”
Trudeau’s spokeswoman Kate Purchase said no specific announcements will from the prime minister’s meeting with Biden. “Rather it’s an opportunity to show the historically unique relationship between our two countries.”