The White House isn’t leaving much wiggle room for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to escape Joe Biden’s Buy American rules.
The two leaders are set to meet virtually later today in Biden’s first bilateral meeting since taking over as U.S. president.
Trudeau is likely to ask Biden for help in procuring COVID-19 vaccines, since Canada has been squeezed by production problems in Europe.
The two leaders will also talk about China, where Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have been detained for more than two years.
Read more: MPs vote in favour of forming special Canada-U.S. economic relations committee
Experts also want Ottawa to push hard for a Canadian exemption from plans to prioritize U.S. businesses for federal infrastructure and procurement.
But White House press secretary Jen Psaki says no immediate changes to the regime are on the horizon.
“He signed an executive order; we’re of course evaluating procurement components of that, but no changes anticipated,” Psaki said Monday.
“Of course, the prime minister will bring up whatever he would like to bring up, as is true of any bilateral meeting.”
Eric Miller, a Canada-U. S. expert and president of the D.C.-based Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, said there is synchronicity between the two leaders — and now is the time to take advantage.
“To me, this is exactly the moment for Canada to go on offence,” Miller said.
The Biden administration and the Trudeau government have aligned interests on climate change, a multilateral foreign policy and on a new approach to China, he said.
And Biden, an outspoken champion of unions, needs to be careful not to run afoul of organized labour groups with large memberships on opposite sides of the border.
“If I were Canada, I’d be pitching very strongly for a Buy American agreement _ I mean, the worst they can say is no,” Miller said.
Coronavirus: Travellers react as new testing, quarantine requirements begin at Canadian airports
Military probe into Vance allegations expands to ‘unprecedented’ levels
Read more: Biden signs executive order enacting ‘Buy American’ plan