News, Politics

Canadian And American Leaders Meet In Washington

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Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama hold a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House. Image: Adam Scotti.
Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama hold a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House. Image: Adam Scotti.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Washington, DC recently. It was the first time a Canadian PM has paid an official visit to an American President in 20 years. It was an historic occasion.

When “heads of state” (leaders of countries) travel, meet and dine with other heads of state, it’s a big deal. That’s because they don’t travel as “themselves” — they travel as a symbol of their country. For instance, it wasn’t “Justin and Barack” having a meal together, it was Canada and the U.S.

During the visit, which took place on March 10, there was a fancy, official dinner (known as a “state dinner”), at which some delicious Canadian favourites were served, including poutine and Nanaimo bars. Before the dinner, Trudeau raised his glass and offered a toast. He said that Canada and the U.S. are “siblings.” He also talked about Canada’s recent acceptance of 25,000 refugees from Syria.

In Obama’s toast, he said the two countries have a “great alliance.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama. Image: Adam Scotti.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama. Image: Adam Scotti.

Canadian-American relations are very important because the two countries are each other’s largest trading partner. That means that each country buys and sells many products to the other country–more than with any other country. Billions of dollars flow back and forth across the border between the two countries.

In addition to the symbollic importance of the visit, some decisions were made. For instance, the two leaders agreed to do more to prevent further climate change. They also agreed to set some guidelines about how the Arctic regions of the two countries are used in the future, in order to try to prevent further damage to those regions.

Canada and the United States don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, but this kind of friendly, official visit can go a long way to ensuring that the two countries remain good neighbours.

Related Links
There is much more to this kind of official visit than just dinner and handshakes. Check out these excellent articles for more highlights and details about the visit.
Globe and Mailhttp://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/trudeau-in-washington/article29171736/
The Starhttp://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/03/10/justin-trudeau-in-washington-from-meeting-barack-obama-to-the-sumptuous-state-dinner.html
The BBC (UK): http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35785086
Globe and Mail (about the dinner, specifically): http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/star-studded-state-dinner-caps-off-a-busy-day-for-trudeaus-obamas/article29170185/

This is kind of cool — it’s the official statement from the Canadian government about the Canada-U.S. partnership.
http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/03/10/fact-sheet-canada-united-states-neighbours-partners-allies

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly and Joyce Grant

Writing/Discussion Prompt
In a toast, Trudeau talked about Canada bringing in many refugees from Syria. He likely brought up that subject because some leaders in the American government right now are saying they don’t want to let Syrian refugees live in their country.

What message do you think Trudeau was trying to send to the Americans about Syrian refugees? Do you think his words will make a difference?

For more information about the refugee crisis in Syria, you can read these TKN articles:
1) http://teachingkidsnews.com/2015/12/14/canada-welcomes-its-newest-residents/
2) http://teachingkidsnews.com/2015/09/13/countries-sending-aid-to-syrian-refugees/

Reading Prompt: Responding to and Evaluating texts
The article explains that during the visit, Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama discussed important issues to both countries, such as preventing climate change and setting “some guidelines about how the Arctic regions of the two countries are used in the future”.

In your opinion, what are other key issues that are important to both countries that you hope the Prime Minister and President discussed? 

Junior 
Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Intermediate 
Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence from the texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Language Feature: Metaphor
A metaphor is a word or a phrase that compares or describes people, things or places. Metaphors help readers to understand because they paint a picture in a reader’s mind.

For example, the following metaphor is in the article: “Billions of dollars flow back and forth across the border between the two countries.” Since money isn’t actually “flowing” across the border, what do you think this metaphor actually means?