Trudeau welcomes Pence to Canada to talk USMCA, China, and Venezuela crisis

Trudeau welcomes Pence to Canada to talk USMCA, China, and Venezuela crisis

While Trudeau says he also wants to talk about what he calls the backsliding of women's rights in the US with Pence, a well-known opponent of abortion, other worldwide issues - including Canada's diplomatic battle with China - will also be up for discussion.

Standing next to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Pence also called again on China to release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor from their "unlawful detention" in the boldest and most tangible gesture of solidarity on a visit that was clearly meant to be a balm on the hurt feelings between the two North American neighbours.

The Liberal government introduced its legislation to ratify the new trade deal on Wednesday, although Trudeau has said Canada intends to align its ratification process with the time frame of the U.S. Congress.

The move could put the trade deal in jeopardy.

The visit comes after President Donald Trump removed steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, clearing a key roadblock to a North American trade pact Trump's team negotiated past year.

"We'll always stand for the right to life", he said.

Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, called Pence's comments "laughable".

Another top item at the Pence-Trudeau meeting will be Canada's arrest of a top executive of China-based Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world's largest telecoms network gear maker. "So much for strong relations".

He said he likes the USMCA, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement. After all, Canada's problem stems entirely from cooperating with a US extradition request. Pence insisted that the trade deal will win approval this summer.

Mexico, which had joined Canada in refusing to ratify the new NAFTA while the levies remained, was to send the pact on Thursday to the Senate, where it should be ratified "soon", President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

"By today's action we give evidence of President Trump's determination to see the United States Congress consider and approve the USMCA and approve it this summer", Pence said.

The last time a US vice-president was in that same all-purpose federal space was when Trudeau feted Joe Biden there with a formal dinner near the end of the Barack Obama administration in late 2016.

It was only two weeks ago that Canada and the US resolved their tariff dispute, seemingly giving the government the go-ahead to move ahead with ratification.

Trudeau confirmed at Thursday's press conference he and Pence discussed abortion, along with a number of concerns such as China and Venezuela, during their closed-door sessions.

Trudeau also followed through on his promise to raise the new anti-abortion laws being passed in several states during the meeting.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor continue to languish in Chinese custody, ostensibly on allegations of espionage, although their plight is widely seen as retribution for the detention last December of tech scion and Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wangzhou, who remains under house arrest in Vancouver as she awaits possible extradition to the US for alleged sanctions violations. The U.S. says she violated trade sanctions against Iran.

Trudeau agreed that the trade deal was better but suggested his inclusion of language about climate change, labor rights and gender equality was what made it so.

Pence said the US has spoken out strongly about the Canadians and is renewing a call to release them, but many analysts have said the support has been largely muted.

"I think for now the prime minister is mostly likely just raising the issue in general to get some attention domestically about that", Masse said.

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