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“Three Amigos” summit on June 29 in Ottawa likely to focus on trade and climate change

The next so-called “Three Amigos” summit will take place in Ottawa on June 29.

CBC reports, “[Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau will play host in the final week of June to U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto at the first gathering of the so-called Three Amigos to be held in Canada in nearly a decade. …The prime minister has also invited Obama to address Parliament, an invitation he extended when the president feted him in Washington two months ago. And, not to play favorites, Pena Nieto will be in Ottawa ahead of the summit for a state visit of his own. It includes a formal dinner hosted by the prime minister at the National Gallery of Canada where a special exhibit of Mexican art is planned.”

What will the summit be about?

Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington, DC, says, “I think they need to make a new commitment to North America.  If you listen to any of the U.S. election coverage right now: North American trade. Immigration. Canada. Mexico. These are all dirty words in the campaign.”

The Canadian Press adds, “Canada was supposed to host a Three Amigos summit last year, but the meeting did not materialize — partly because then-prime minister Stephen Harper was at odds with Mexico over a visa requirement for Mexican visitors to Canada, and partly because the U.S. had resisted approving the Keystone XL pipeline. The Mexican visa issue is still outstanding, but Trudeau has promised to resolve it.”

The Toronto Star notes that Trudeau “downplayed concern over protectionist trade talk on the U.S. campaign trail” when announced the upcoming Three Amigos summit. Trudeau says, “I think one of the things we see in any electoral campaign, including electoral campaigns here in Canada, is a bit of rhetoric around protectionism that tends to dissipate a little bit once the election has come and gone.” On NAFTA, presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump has stated, “We will either renegotiate it or we will break it.” Likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has expressed her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

This past March, the Globe and Mail reported, “Canada will play host to the next North American Leaders’ Summit, this summer, and a senior government official said Trudeau will make climate change a key focus of the talks along with boosting continental trade.” The news report added, “Mr. Trudeau said the environmental strategy announced at the White House on Thursday [March 10] to regulate potent greenhouse gases such as methane gas and black carbon, limit heavy vehicle emission and safeguard sensitive marine areas in the Arctic must be extended to Mexico.”

Trudeau presumably intends to build on the trilateral agreement signed in Winnipeg in February by Canada, the United States and Mexico. At that time, CBC reported, “Sources tell CBC News the emphasis will be on a ‘low-carbon future’ for North America. This essentially kickstarts the detailed, behind the scenes work needed for a continent-wide agreement that will enable all three countries to work together on clean energy and options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” That news article further highlights that the Winnipeg meeting was the beginning of “discussions on the first North American accord on climate change and clean energy”.

Author Gordon Laxer has commented, “Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said the Winnipeg agreement builds on ‘strides’ made toward a continental energy strategy. That’s news to Canadians. What strides and to what end? Would a continental energy strategy help Canada meet its ambitious Paris climate promises? Will it lock Canadians into their traditional role as diggers and exporters of carbon fuels?” Laxer also calls for public consultations on this continental energy strategy, just as the Liberals have promised on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He argues, “Why the double standard? Why should Canadians not be as widely consulted on a continental climate strategy, too?”

And Laxer cautions, “It’s easy to see why U.S. officials want continental energy integration. Despite the recent surge in domestic oil production, the U.S. is forecast to still import more than a quarter of its oil through 2035. Washington sees Canada and Mexico as much safer oil suppliers than the Middle East and Venezuela.”

In August 2007, the Council of Canadians mobilized against the North American Leaders’ Summit that took place in Montebello, Quebec. The focus of that meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon was the controversial Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).