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The latest developments on U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to Ottawa

OTTAWA — The latest developments on U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to Ottawa with first lady Jill Biden on Friday. All times eastern. 7:40 p.m. U.S. President Joe Biden speaks next.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden take part in a meeting on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Friday, March 24, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — The latest developments on U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to Ottawa with first lady Jill Biden on Friday. All times eastern.

7:40 p.m.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks next. 

He recalls his earlier reference in Parliament to the poem In Flanders Fields.

He quotes a poet and says he believes we are at an inflection point in the world.

His toast (with water): “To family, to Canada and the United States.”

He and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touch glasses and Biden says, “Thanks man.”

Media are ushered out of the room.


7:30 p.m. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks first. 

He makes a few jokes about the Canadian celebrities in the crowd who became famous in the U.S.

Then he talks about the things Canada has done since President Joe Biden’s last visit in 2016, highlighting efforts on climate change, protection of reproductive rights and affordable child care.

He offers a toast to shared history and shared hope, to shared prosperity and to the shared peace and security that bind the two countries.


7:10 p.m.

Guests stood and applauded as Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Joe Biden and their spouses entered the Aviation Museum via a red carpet.

Their entrance was accompanied by a group of Algonquin drummers.

Claudette Commanda, an Algonquin Anishinaabe from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation and chancellor of the University of Ottawa, gave an opening prayer.


6:55 p.m. 

More than 350 guests have assembled in the main hall of the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum for a gala dinner in honour of Joe Biden.

MPs, cabinet ministers, opposition leaders (including Pierre Poilievre) and special guests are mingling as everyone waits for the president and prime minister to arrive.

Canadian acting legends Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara are popular, taking photos with many of the other guests.


5:20 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will have to make sure it remains competitive in the face of Buy American policies, but he says Canada's efforts to remain competitive are not new.

Trudeau says in a press conference that he will have more to say about specific measures once his budget is tabled next week.

President Joe Biden says each country has what the other needs and they are working together, adding that he doesn't agree Canada is being put at a disadvantage. 

Trudeau says there are also opportunities for Canada as the U.S. seeks to reign in its supply chains and bring them closer to home.


5:15 p.m.

U.S. President Joe Biden says he's not disappointed that Canada has not taken a larger role in a multilateral force in Haiti.

He says the circumstances in Haiti are very difficult, where gangs have effectively taken the place of the government.

Biden says the biggest thing the two countries can do is increase that capacity of local police agencies, as suggested by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He says that idea will take time. 

Biden says military intervention is not off the table, but is not currently in play as it would have to be done in consultation with the United Nations and the Haitian government. 

Trudeau says they must keep the Haitian people at the heart of the institutions they must rebuild. 


5:01 p.m.

United States President Joe Biden says his country has been expanding its alliances and outpacing the alliance Russia has made with China.

He says at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the partnership between China and Russia has been vastly exaggerated. 

Meanwhile, he says, the West has coalesced significantly more in comparison.


4:50 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced several new agreements after a day of bilateral meetings with U.S. President Joe Biden.

He says they are bolstering continental defence, updating a treaty on cross-border asylum seekers and launching a one-year energy transformation task force.


4:34 p.m.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says he asked President Joe Biden to drop U.S. border restrictions that prevent Canadians who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 from visiting the country.

It was one of the issues Poilievre says he raised when met Biden today, after the leader of the free world addressed the House of Commons.

Poilievre says he found Biden to be a "friendly" and "decent" neighbour to Canada and shared with the president how they are both Irish descendants. 

The Tory leader says he expressed to Biden that he believes Canada should be exempt from Buy American policies and end the tariff on Canadian softwood lumber.


3:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden say in a joint statement they are bolstering Norad, updating the Safe Third Country Agreement and launching a one-year energy transformation task force.

They are also announcing new spending on alternative fuel corridors, critical minerals, semiconductor projects, the Great Lakes and Arctic radar.

The joint statement released as Biden finished his address in the House of Commons also commits to joint efforts on the opioid crisis, including through improved intelligence-sharing on cross-border fentanyl.

They also say both countries will keep imposing sanctions on Russia and support Ukraine "for as long as it takes."


3:25 p.m.

U.S. President Joe Biden finishes his speech to the House of Commons. 

He ends by saying he defines Canada in the same way that he defines America, with one word: "Possibility."

Biden then walks back to his seat amid thunderous applause from the chamber. 


3:20 p.m. 

U.S. President Joe Biden says he is "very proud" that both he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have cabinets that are 50 per cent women. 

As Liberals and others in the House of Commons rise to their feet to applaud, Biden turns to the Opposition Conservatives who appear not to be rising.

He tells them that even if they don't agree, "I'd stand up," and gives a short laugh.

Biden says he took a lesson on the matter from Trudeau.


3:12 p.m. 

U.S. President Joe Biden says his country and Canada will defend NATO territories and continue to stand with Ukraine as it battles Russia's invasion. 

In a speech to the House of Commons, Biden says that "an attack against one is an attack against all."

Biden later discusses the importance of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, known as Norad. 

He announces that the U.S. and Canada plan to update the Safe Third Country Agreement, a statement that earns a standing ovation. 


3:02 p.m. 

U.S. President Joe Biden used part of his speech to draw attention to the transition to green technology. 

Trade Minister Mary Ng, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne shared fist bumps when he mentioned that the U.S. and Canada have the most prosperous nations when it comes to diversifying their economies.

The federal NDP caucus, along with some Liberals, erupted into cheers when Biden called himself a "pro-union man."


2:52 p.m. 

U.S. President Joe Biden begins his address to the House of Commons. 

He opens by thanking and greeting those in the chamber, saying, "Bonjour, Canada," which earns some laughs, cheers and another standing ovation. 

Biden later jokes that he likes hockey, except for the Toronto Maple Leafs, getting him a mix of boos and applause. 

He says the reason for his comment is the team recently beat the Philadelphia Flyers — so he has to say it, because he married a "Philly girl," referring to first lady Jill Biden.


2:47 p.m. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says climate policy is intertwined with economic and security policy. 

Trudeau is addressing the House of Commons, which is waiting to hear from U.S. President Joe Biden. 

Earlier in his speech, Trudeau pointed to a man in the gallery named Neil, who the prime minister says works as a steelworker from Hamilton, Ont.

Trudeau emphasized the need for "clean steel" — a nod to Canadian industries looking for him to challenge Biden's Buy America policy.


2:35 p.m. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says U.S. President Joe Biden is a "true friend" to Canada, during an introduction before Biden's address to Parliament.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Trudeau says: "Make no mistake, these are serious times."

Trudeau discusses the need for both Canada and the United States to maintain their support of Ukraine, which Russian invaded in February 2022. 

He points to a woman in the gallery who Trudeau says left Ukraine a decade ago, saying she worries about her loved ones still living there. 


2:30 p.m. 

The House of Commons gives a standing ovation to U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden as they enter the chamber. 

Biden waves to some in the gallery and takes a seat beside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

He is first welcomed by Commons Speaker Anthony Rota. 


2:24 p.m. 

The House of Commons gave a standing ovation to Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians who were imprisoned in China for more than 1,000 days. 

MPs were on their feet for nearly a minute while the two men and their partners nodded back and smiled.

Kovrig and Spavor are among guests packed into the gallery to see U.S. President Joe Biden speak, and they stood while the House erupted into applause. 

At one point, Spavor could be seen saying: "Wow."


2:04 p.m. 

Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians whom China imprisoned for more than 1,000 days, are among guests in the House of Commons to hear U.S. President Joe Biden speak. 

This marks their first public appearance since they were released in 2021. 

Also waiting to hear from Biden include Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, ambassadors, senators and other special guests.


1:40 p.m. 

Former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien says he's not convinced foreign interference is a major problem in Canada. 

Chrétien was speaking to reporters on Parliament Hill as he waited to hear U.S. President Joe Biden address the House of Commons. 

Allegations of Chinese meddling in Canada's election hang over the visit, but Chrétien says former governor general David Johnston, who was recently appointed as a special rapporteur on the issue, should yield answers.

Chrétien says Trudeau should convince the Americans to stop protectionist policies by demonstrating the deep economic ties between Canada and the U.S. and the trade deals that commit to collaboration.


1:27 p.m. 

The House of Commons is slowly filling up with guests of the prime minister and members of Parliament from all parties.

Biden is set to deliver a speech to Parliament this afternoon, becoming the ninth president to do so.

Notable people in attendance at Parliament include former prime minister Jean Chrétien and former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty. 


12:20 p.m. 

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau guided first lady Jill Biden into the National Gallery of Canada. 

Biden told Grégoire Trudeau that she just needed a moment to take in the glass ceilings at the gallery's entrance, and paused before they were led into an exhibit of works by Canadian female artists.

As they toured the exhibit, Grégoire Trudeau told Biden about the importance of Emily Carr, one of the featured artists, to Canadian art. 

The two are expected to have a private lunch at the gallery following their tour.


12:32 p.m.

U.S. President Joe Biden and his accompanying officials and secretaries are meeting with a contingent of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet and staff.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Trade Minister Mary Ng joined Trudeau, as well as his national security and intelligence adviser, Jody Thomas.

Joining Biden are State Secretary Antony Blinken, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Media were welcomed into the West Block cabinet room, where the leaders and officials were seated around a long oval table, to briefly observe the start of the meeting.


12:03 p.m. 

People all over downtown Ottawa paused to wave or pull out their phone and take a video as Jill Biden’s motorcade whizzed by.

The first lady and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau were in separate vehicles as 19 cars travelled from the Rideau Curling Club to the National Gallery of Canada.

People stepped out of shops onto the sidewalks to watch and wave.


11:57 a.m. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada has no "greater friend and ally than the United States."

Trudeau made the remark at the start of his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden. 

Trudeau says both have been working closely on building strong economies, fighting climate change and dealing with a "changing geopolitical security context."

Biden says the U.S. is "lucky" to have Canada next door and "there is no fundamental difference in the democratic values" shared by both countries.

He says the pair have a lot to talk about and anticipate accomplishing a lot. 


11:52 a.m.

Green Leader Elizabeth May pulled from her pocket a chocolate bar with bright yellow wrapping that said PEACE in white text, and handed it to the president, who seemed delighted.

Biden and Trudeau signed a large book with gold-rimmed pages, flanked by parliamentary officials including the two Speakers.

They went down a hallway toward Trudeau's office.


11:45 a.m.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are greeted by a welcoming party on as they arrive on Parliament Hill.

The group includes Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and other opposition party leaders.

Poilievre introduces himself to Biden as the leader of "His Majesty's Loyal Opposition," and then Biden reacts to his use of the word "loyal."

Poilievre says that in Canada, being in opposition is an act of loyalty.


11:40 a.m.

A helicopter buzzes above as the presidential motorcade slowly drives by Parliament Hill near the Centennial flame towards West Block. 

The motorcade is more than a dozen vehicles long, and one of two black Cadillacs with flags on it is holding the president. 

A small group of supporters took photos and held signs as it went by at a turtle’s pace.


11:18 a.m.

Jill Biden and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau sat down at a big, round table in the lounge of the Rideau Curling Club with several high-school students who are involved in various sports, introducing themselves and joking that the teens were missing school.

Grégoire Trudeau spoke to them enthusiastically about the importance of learning about their physical and mental limits, and asked the students to share their experiences with sports and mental health.

She listened attentively while a teenage girl explained the importance of gymnastics to her, as Jill Biden pulled out a notebook and pen and started writing.

Biden told the kids she feels a sense of calm when she begins to exercise, and the teens nodded that they feel the same.


11 a.m.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau greeted the first lady with a warm hug at the Rideau Curling Club before heading out into the chilly arena, where two dozen curlers were practising their sport.

Shouts from the ice went quiet, and Jill Biden and Grégoire Trudeau thanked the players for having them, both exclaiming that they love sports.

Grégoire Trudeau spoke about the importance of sports to mental health before practice resumed and a representative from the club offered them a short primer on the game and how it's played.

Both women stayed off the ice as they greeted players.


10:49 a.m. 

Helicopters and drones are flying above Parliament Hill now as security ramps up ahead of Biden’s arrival.

At least three teams of snipers are looking on from the tops of surrounding buildings. 

Vehicles have stopped circulating on the Hill itself, and more teams of officers and police vehicles are stationing themselves near the president's expected route.


10:32 a.m.

Wellington Street, directly in front of Parliament Hill, is crawling with police and media.

Large teams of police are stationed along the street, while eight officers on horseback make their way along the road, which has been closed to traffic since the "Freedom Convoy" a year ago.

A small group of about two dozen people is stationed on Parliament Hill, some of them holding a large sign that reads: "Welcome to Canada."

A single protester associated with the "Freedom Convoy" is holding a large Canadian flag in front of the Hill.


10:30 a.m. 

The two Canadians who were imprisoned in China for nearly three years will be in attendance today as Biden addresses Parliament. 

Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig will also attend the gala dinner tonight.

It will be the first public appearance for the two since they were released by China in September 2021, after spending more than a thousand days in prison.

Ukraine's ambassador in Canada, as well as ambassadors from the European Union and other G7 countries are also on the guest list for the address — as are a Ukrainian immigrant to Canada and workers from several Canadian companies, including steel giant Dofasco and rare earth elements mining company Cheetah Resources.


10:05 a.m. 

Two university students from the state of Virginia who were jogging in front of the Parliament Buildings had no idea their president was in town, and they were unfazed by the heavy police presence. 

The two men were more interested in snapping photos of the architecture than they were of catching a glimpse of their president. 

They declined to give their names, but expressed annoyance that the security detail made them change their scenic running route. 

An hour before the president is set to arrive on Parliament Hill, the area remains void of crowds.


9:48 a.m.

Karla Marcel is visiting Ottawa from the Czech Republic, and while her trip aligns with the president’s visit she has another man on her mind: her son. 

Although Biden is just around the corner from her, Karla says she's here to see her son Marcel Marcel play hockey. 

She says she has no plans to try to catch a glimpse of Biden, noting her country's president is much younger. She adds that it feels just like any other "normal" day.


9:35 a.m.

Sparks Street, the pedestrian walkway the runs parallel to Wellington Street and Parliament Hill, was quiet this morning ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden's arrival.

Some businesses along the street frequented by tourists chose not to open in anticipation of their street closing later today

A worker at the Ottawa Bike Cafe says it’s "not really" exciting to be working today despite the pomp and circumstance around Biden’s visit.

She says it feels just like any other day: a slow start for morning customers.


9:30 a.m.

Canada and the United States have already agreed in principle to fortify immigration rules that have led to a spike in the number of people slipping across their shared border in order to claim asylum in Canada. 

The rules currently allow either country to turn back asylum seekers from outside the U.S. or Canada who try to make a claim at an official entry point.

The changes would extend those rules to cover unofficial crossings too.

A draft order posted today in the U.S. Federal Register describing details of the proposed "supplement" to the existing Safe Third Country Agreement, as it's known, says it would take effect Saturday. 

That supplement, known as the "Additional Protocol of 2022," would "extend the STCA’s application … to individuals who cross between the official (points of entry) along the U.S.-Canada shared border, including certain bodies of water."


9:05 a.m.

There is a heavy security presence stationed around Parliament Hill, including from the Mounties, the Parliamentary Protective Service and local police ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden's visit.

Dozens of officers line Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill, which has been closed to most vehicles since last winter's "Freedom Convoy" protests, and nearby intersections.

Members of the public wishing to access Parliament Hill and visit the Centennial Flame are being directed to a security tent before entering.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2023.

The Canadian Press