Joe Biden was welcomed today as a “great friend” in Canada, on his first official visit in which he is expected to make announcements on Haiti, immigration and the economy.

“It is a great pleasure to have a great friend here,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the start of the bilateral meeting at Parliament in Ottawa, insisting on the two countries’ shared “values”.

“We sometimes have disagreements but there is no fundamental difference in our shared democratic values,” the US president said.

Upon his arrival, Biden received a chocolate bar made by a family of Syrian refugees in Canada.

The 80-year-old Democrat had not been able to travel to this neighboring and allied country after his inauguration, as US presidents are wont to do, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

After Biden’s speech before the Canadian Parliament tonight, he will hold a press conference.

The relationship between Washington and Ottawa is infinitely more cordial than during the presidency of Donald Trump, who never made an official visit to the country.

However, that doesn’t prevent a few quirks.

On one of the sensitive issues between the two allies, irregular immigration, the visit could lead to a breakthrough, assure Radio-Canada and the New York Times newspaper.

Americans and Canadians would have to find a deal to close the “Roxham Road”, a makeshift road through which nearly 40,000 migrants arrived in Quebec last year, bypassing official entry points, from the US.

This prospect is already worrying migrant aid organisations. “The impact on refugees at extreme risk is devastating. The result will be to push people either to attempt even more dangerous crossings into isolated areas, or to be pushed towards traffickers,” deplored Julia Sand, on behalf of of Amnesty International, speaking to AFP.

These arrivals caused intense political debate in Canada

– Haiti –

In the White House, they say they understand Canadian concerns but note that the issue is current in the US as well.

In January, US authorities made more than 128,000 arrests for attempts to illegally enter US soil from Mexico, and the American right is not missing an opportunity to accuse Joe Biden of being lax on the phenomenon.

Another topic of the talks will be Haiti, which is plagued by extreme violence and a severe humanitarian crisis.

A Canadian government source told AFP he expected an announcement today on “significant funding” for humanitarian aid and training for Haiti’s peacekeeping forces.

The US would also look favorably on Canada taking the lead in sending an international force to the Caribbean country.

Military spending will also be on the agenda for the talks as Washington presses NATO members for an effort against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and rising tensions with China.

Ottawa is a long way from devoting 2% of its gross domestic product to the defense budget — the limit set for NATO countries.

A modernization of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) could be specifically discussed today in Ottawa.

Finally, the economy will be an important topic of the talks.

Trudeau, whose country is the US’s number one foreign trade customer, will want to advance his pawns on the economy.

The Canadian government source said announcements about semiconductors and strengthening North American supply chains are expected during the joint press conference.

Finally, it is noted that the visit of Joe Biden, who has promised to engage in a ruthless competition with China, comes shortly after the opening of an investigation in Canada into allegations of Chinese interference in the last two federal elections