November 14, 2019
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President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau Hold a Joint Press Conference


The President: Well, once again, I want to welcome Prime Minister Trudeau to the White House. We just completed a very
productive meeting. Although I regret to inform
you that we still have not reached agreement on hockey. But it is not interfering
with the rest of our bilateral relationship. (laughter) As I said earlier, this
visit reflects something we Americans don’t
always say enough, and that is how much we
value our great alliance and partnership with our
friends up north. We’re woven together so
deeply — as societies, as economies — that it’s
sometimes easy to forget how truly remarkable our
relationship is. A shared border
— more than 5,000 miles — that is the
longest between any two nations in the world. Every day, we do some
$2 billion in trade and investment — and that’s the
largest bilateral economic relationship in the world. Every day, more than 400,000
Americans and Canadians cross the border — workers,
businesspeople, students, tourists, neighbors. And, of course, every time
we have a presidential election, our friends to the
north have to brace for an exodus of Americans who
swear they’ll move to Canada if the guy from the
other party wins. (laughter) But, typically,
it turns out fine. (laughter) This is now my second
meeting with Justin. I’m grateful that I
have him as a partner. We’ve got a common outlook
on what our nations can achieve together. He campaigned on a message
of hope and of change. His positive and optimistic
vision is inspiring young people. At home, he’s governing with
a commitment to inclusivity and equality. On the world stage, his
country is leading on climate change and he cares
deeply about development. So, from my perspective,
what’s not to like? Of course, no two nations
agree on everything. Our countries
are no different. But in terms of our
interests, our values, how we approach the world,
few countries match up the way the United
States and Canada do. And given our work
together today, I can say — and I believe
the Prime Minister would agree — that when it comes
to the central challenges that we face, our two
nations are more closely aligned than ever. We want to make it easier to
trade and invest with one another. America is already the top
destination for Canadian exports, and Canada is
the top market for U.S. exports, which support about
1.7 million good-paying American jobs. When so many of our
products, like autos, are built on both sides of
the border in an integrated supply chain, this
co-production makes us more competitive in the global
economy as a whole. And we want to
keep it that way. So we’ve instructed our
teams to stay focused on making it even easier for
goods and people to move back and forth across
the borders — including reducing bottlenecks and
streamlining regulations. We discussed how to
move forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership,
and today we also reaffirmed our determination to move
ahead with an agreement to pre-clear travelers through
immigration and customs, making it even easier for
Canadians and Americans to travel and visit and
do business together. As NATO allies, we’re united
against the threat of terrorism. Canada is an extraordinarily
valued member of the global coalition fighting ISIL —
tripling its personnel to help train and advise
forces in Iraq, stepping up its intelligence
efforts in the region, and providing critical
humanitarian support. We’re working closely
together to prevent the flow of foreign
fighters, and today, we agreed to share more
information — including with respect to our
no-fly lists and full implementation of our
entry/exit system — even as we uphold the privacy and
civil liberties of our respective citizens. In Syria, the cessation of
hostilities has led to a measurable drop in
violence in the civil war, and the United States and
Canada continue to be leaders in getting
humanitarian aid to Syrians who are in desperate need. Meanwhile, our two countries
continue to safely welcome refugees from that conflict. And I want to commend Justin
and the Canadian people once again for their
compassionate leadership on this front. I’m especially pleased to
say the United States and Canada are fully united in
combating climate change. As the first U.S. President to visit the Arctic, I saw how both of our
nations are threatened by rising seas,
melting permafrost, disappearing
glaciers and sea ice. And so we are focusing
on making sure the Paris agreement is fully
implemented, and we’re working to double
our investments in clean energy research
and development. Today, we’re also
announcing some new steps. Canada is joining us in our
aggressive goal to bring down methane emissions in
the oil and gas sectors in both of our countries, and
together we’re going to move swiftly to establish
comprehensive standards to meet that goal. We’re also going to work
together to phase down HFCs and to limit carbon
emissions from international aviation. We’re announcing a new
climate and science partnership to protect the
Arctic and its people. And later this year, I’ll
welcome our partners, including Canada, to
our White House Science Ministerial on the Arctic to
deepen our cooperation in this vital region. We’re also grateful for
Canada’s partnership as we renew America’s leadership
across the hemisphere. Mr. Prime Minister, I want
to thank you for Canada’s continuing support for our
new chapter of engagement with the Cuban people, which
I will continue with my upcoming visit to
Cuba next week. We’re going to work to help
Colombia achieve peace and remove the deadly legacy
of landmines there. And our scientists and
public health professionals will work with partners
across the hemisphere to prevent the spread of the
Zika virus and work together actively for diagnostic and
vaccines that can make a real difference. And finally, our shared
values — our commitment to human development and the
dignity of all people — continue to guide our
work as global partners. Through the Global
Health Security Agenda, we’re stepping up our
efforts to prevent outbreaks of diseases from
becoming epidemics. We are urgently working to
help Ethiopia deal with the worst drought in
half a century. Today, our spouses,
Michelle and Sophie, are reaffirming our
commitment to the health and education of young women
and girls around the world. And Canada will be joining
our Power Africa initiative to bring electricity —
including renewable energy — to homes and businesses
across the continent and help lift people
out of poverty. And those are our
values at work. So, again, Justin, I want
to thank you for your partnership. I believe we’ve laid a
foundation for even greater cooperation for our
countries for years to come. And I’d like to think that
it is only the beginning. I look forward to welcoming
you back for the Nuclear Security Summit
in a few weeks. I’m pleased that we were
able to announce that the next North American Leaders
Summit that will be in Canada this summer. The Prime Minister has
invited me to address the Canadian parliament, and
that’s a great honor. I look forward to the
opportunity to speak directly to the Canadian
people about the extraordinary future that
we can build together. Prime Minister Trudeau. Prime Minister Trudeau:
Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning, everyone. It’s an honor to be here. As I’ve reflected on the
storied relationship between our two great countries,
I constantly return to President Kennedy’s wise
words on our friendship that, “what unites us is far
greater than what divides us.” And as President Obama
mentioned earlier, if geography made
us neighbors, then shared values made
us kindred spirits, and it is our choices,
individually and collectively, that
make us friends. That friendship, matched
by much hard work, has allowed us to do great
things throughout our history — from the beaches
of Normandy to the free trade agreement, and now,
today, on climate change. The President and I share
a common goal: We want a clean-growth economy that
continues to provide good jobs and great opportunities
for all of our citizens. And I’m confident that,
by working together, we’ll get there
sooner than we think. Let’s take the Paris
agreement, for example. That agreement is both a
symbolic declaration of global cooperation
on climate change, as well as a practical guide
for growing our economies in a responsible and
sustainable way. Canada and the U.S. have committed to signing
the agreement as soon as possible. We know that our
international partners expect and, indeed, need
leadership from us on this issue. The President and I have
announced today that we’ll take ambitious action to
reduce methane emissions nearly by half from
the oil and gas sector, reduce use and emissions
of hydrofluorocarbons, and implement aligned
greenhouse gas emission standards for
heavy-duty vehicles, amongst other plans to
fight climate change. (as interpreted from French)
We also announced a new partnership aiming to
develop a sustainable economy in the Arctic. This partnership foresees
new standards based on scientific data, from
fishing in the high seas of the Arctic, as well as set
new standards to ensure maritime transport
with less emissions. The partnership will
also promote sustainable development in the region,
in addition to putting the bar higher in terms of
preserving the biodiversity in the Arctic. We have also decided to make
our borders both more open and more safe by agreeing of
pre-clearing at the Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto
and the Jean Lesage Airport in Quebec, as well as
the railroad stations in Montreal and Vancouver. Moreover, we’re creating a
U.S.-Canada working group in the next 60 days on the
recourses to assess how we will resolve errors of
identity on the no-fly list. (speaks English) The
President and I acknowledge the fundamental and wholly
unique economic relationship between Canada and
the United States. We have, historically, been
each other’s largest trading partners. Each and every day, over
$2.4 billion worth of goods and services
cross the border. Today, we reaffirmed our
commitment to streamlining trade between our countries. Overall, the President and
I agree on many things, including, of
paramount importance, the direction we want to
take our countries in to ensure a clean and
prosperous future. We’ve made tremendous
progress on many issues. Unfortunately, I will leave
town with my beloved Expos still here in Washington. You can’t have everything. (laughter) I’d like to conclude by
extending my deepest thanks to Barack for his leadership
on the climate change file to date. I want to assure the
American people that they have a real
partner in Canada. Canada and the U.S. will stand side by side to confront the pressing needs that face not only
our two countries, but the entire planet. I’m very much looking
forward to the remainder of my time here in Washington. So thank you again for
your leadership and your friendship. I know that our two
countries can achieve great things by working together
as allies and as friends, as we have done so
many times before. Merci beaucoup, Barack. President Obama: All right,
we’re going to take a few questions. We’ll start with
Julie Davis. The Press: Thank
you, Mr. President. I want to ask you about
the Supreme Court. You’ve already said you’re
looking for a highly qualified nominee with
impeccable credentials. Can you give us a sense of
what other factors you’re considering in making
your final choice? How much of this comes down
to a gut feeling for you? And does it affect your
decision to know that your nominee is very likely to
hang out in the public eye without hearings or a
vote for a long time, or maybe ever? And, frankly, shouldn’t that
be driving your decision if you’re asking someone to put
themselves forward for this position as this point? For Prime Minister Trudeau,
I wanted to ask you — we know you’ve been following
our presidential campaign here in the U.S. As the President alluded
to, you’ve even made a joke about welcoming Americans
who might be frightened of a Donald Trump presidency
to your country. What do you think the stakes
are for you and for the relationship between Canada
and the United States if Donald Trump or Ted Cruz
were to win the presidency and to succeed
President Obama? You obviously see eye-to-eye
with him on a lot of issues. What do you think —
how would it affect the relationship if one of them
were to succeed President Obama? Thank you. President Obama: Even though
it wasn’t directed to me, let me just — (laughter) — I do want to point out I am absolutely certain
that, in 2012, when there was the
possibility that I might be reelected there were folks
who were threatening to go to Canada, as well. And one of the great things
about a relationship like Canada’s and the United
States’ is it transcends party and it’s bipartisan in
terms of the interest that we share. With respect to the Supreme
Court, I’ve told you, Julie, what I’m looking for. I want somebody who is
an outstanding jurist, who has impeccable
legal credentials, who, by historical standards,
would not even be questioned as qualified for the Court. Obviously, it’s somebody who
I want to make sure follows the Constitution; cares
about things like stare decisis and precedent;
understands the necessary humility of a judge at any
level in looking at statute, looking at what the elected
branches are doing; is not viewing themselves as
making law or, in some ways, standing above elected
representatives, but also recognizes the
critical role that that branch plays in protecting
minorities to ensuring that the political system
doesn’t skew in ways that systematically
leave people out, that are mindful of the
traditions that are embedded in our cherished documents
like the Bill of Rights. So in terms of who I select,
I’m going to do my job. And then my expectation is
going to be that the Senate do its job as outlined
in the Constitution. I’ve said this before — I
find it ironic that people who are constantly citing
the Constitution would suddenly read into the
Constitution requirements, norms, procedures that are
nowhere to be found there. That’s precisely the kinds
of interpretive approach that they have vehemently
rejected and that they accused liberals of
engaging in all the time. Well, you can’t abandon your
principles — if, in fact, these are your principles
— simply for the sake of political expedience. So we’ll see how they
operate once a nomination has been made. I’m confident that
whoever I select, among fair-minded people
will be viewed as an eminently qualified person. And it will then be up to
Senate Republicans to decide whether they want to follow
the Constitution and abide by the rules of fair play
that ultimately undergird our democracy and that
ensure that the Supreme Court does not just become
one more extension of our polarized politics. If and when that happens,
our system is not going to work. It’s not that the Supreme
Court or any of our courts can be hermetically sealed
from the rest of our society. These are human beings. They read the newspapers;
they’ve got opinions; they’ve got values. But our goal is to have them
be objective and be able to execute their duties in a
way that gives everybody — both the winning party and
the losing party in any given case — a sense that
they were treated fairly. That depends on a process
of selecting and confirming judges that is
perceived as fair. And my hope is, is that
cooler heads will prevail and people will reflect on
what’s at stake here once a nomination is made. Prime Minister Trudeau:
One of the things that is abundantly clear whenever a
President and Prime Minister sit down to engage on
important issues of relevance to our peoples
is that the relationship, the friendship between our
two countries goes far beyond any two individuals
or any ideologies. I have tremendous confidence
in the American people, and look forward to working
with whomever they choose to send to this White
House later this year. Alex. The Press: Good morning. This meeting is happening
at a unique point in the Canada-U.S. relationship. President Obama, you have
very little time left here. Prime Minister Trudeau, you
have several years to think about and work on Canada’s
most important relationship. So I’d like to ask you
a longer-term question, maybe to lay down some
markers about big ideas, big things that you think
the two countries could achieve in the coming years,
beyond the next few months, and whether those things
might include something like a common market that would
allow goods and services and workers to flow more
freely across our border. And on a more personal note,
you’ve had a chance to observe each other’s
election campaigns and now you’ve had a chance to work
together a little bit. I’d like to ask you for your
impressions — to ask about your impression of President
Obama and his potential legacy, and about Prime
Minister Trudeau’s potential. And if you could
answer that in French, bonus points to either of
you — (laughter) — but we’d be especially keen to
hear Prime Minister Trudeau do so. Thank you. Prime Minister Trudeau:
Thank you, Alex. First of all, we very much
did engage on big issues throughout our conversations
and throughout our hard work this morning, and over the
months leading up to this meeting today — issues that
are of import not just to all of our citizens but
to the entire world. Whether it’s how we
ensure that there is no contradiction between
a strong economy and a protected environment;
understand how we need to work together as individual
countries but, indeed, as a planet to address
the challenges of climate change; how we continue to
seek to ensure security for our citizens here at home,
but also create stability and opportunity and health
security for people around the world facing pandemics
and violence and issues — these are big issues
that Canada and the U.S. have always been engaged on
in various ways over the past decades and
centuries, and, indeed, will continue to. One of the things that we
highlight is the fact that we have different scales,
different perspectives on similar issues and on shared
values is actually a benefit in that we can complement
each other in our engagement with the world and our
approach to important issues. So I look forward
to many, many, many more years — it will
certainly outlive the both of us — of a tremendous and
responsible and effective friendship and collaboration
between our two countries. (as interpreted from French)
The topic of our discussions this morning has been what
is at stake — climate change, security
in the world, our commitments towards the
most vulnerable populations. Canada and the United States
are the lucky countries in many ways — they will
always have a lot to do in order to be together
in the world. And this is what we are
going to keep on doing in the years and the
decades to come, and we hope in the
centuries to come. About President Obama, I’ve
learned a lot from him. He is somebody who
is a deep thinker. He is somebody with a big
heart but also a big brain. And for me to be able to
count on him as a friend who has lived through many of
the things that I’m about to encounter on a
political stage, on the international stage,
it’s a great comfort to me. And it is always great to
have people that you can trust, people that you
can count on personally, especially when you are
facing very big challenges such as what we are doing
right now in the United States and Canada. (speaks English) — always
pleased to hear from President Obama how he has
engaged with difficult issues of the past, because
he is a man of both tremendous heart and
tremendous intellect. And being able to draw on
his experience and his wisdom as I face the very
real challenges that our countries and, indeed, our
world will be facing in the coming years is something I
appreciate deeply about my friend, Barack. President Obama:
Well, Alex, was it? Prime Minister
Trudeau: Alex. President Obama: Let me
just note, first of all, that the tenor of your
question seems to imply that I’m old and creaky. (laughter) Prime Minister Trudeau: Not
the tenor of my answer, I hope. (laughter) President Obama: No,
you managed it well. (laughter) But don’t think I
didn’t catch that. It is true — I think I’ve
said before that in my congratulatory call, I
indicated to him that if, in fact, you plan to
keep your dark hair, then you have to start
dyeing it early. (laughter) You hit a certain point and
it’s too late — you’ll be caught. But look, I think Justin and
his delegation — because one of the things we learn
very rapidly in these jobs is, is that this is a team
effort and not a solo act — they’re bringing the right
values, enormous energy, enormous passion and
commitment to their work, and perhaps most
importantly, it’s clear that they are
keenly interested in engaging Canadian citizens
in the process of solving problems. And I think that’s how
democracies are supposed to work. And their instincts
are sound. And that’s reflected in the
positive response to the work that they’ve
done so far, and I think that will
carry them very far. And Justin’s talent and
concern for the Canadian people and his appreciation
of the vital role that Canada can play in
the larger world is self-apparent. He is, I think, going
to do a great job. And we’re looking forward
to partnering with him and we’re glad to have him and
his team as a partner. And with respect to big
ideas, look, to some degree, you don’t fix
what’s not broken. And the relationship is
extraordinary and doesn’t, I don’t think, need some set
of revolutionary concepts. What it does require is not
taking the relationship for granted. It does require
steady effort. And perhaps most
importantly, it requires, because we have
so much in common, that we recognize
on the big, looming issues
on the horizon, it is vital for us to work
together because the more aligned we are, the more we
can shape the international agenda to meet
these challenges. Climate change is
such an example. This is going to be a big
problem for everybody. There are countries that are
going to be hit worse by it; in some ways, Canada
and the United States, as wealthier countries, can
probably adapt and manage better. On the other hand, we’re
also those responsible for a lot of the carbon pollution that is causing climate change. If we don’t agree, if
we’re not aggressive, if we’re not far-sighted, if
we don’t pool our resources around the research and
development and clean energy agenda that’s required
to solve this problem, then other countries won’t
step up and it won’t get solved. That’s a big idea. That’s a really
important effort. With respect to the economy,
one of the things that Canada and the United States
share is a commitment to a free market. I believe, and I know
Justin does as well, that a market-based economy
not only has proven to be the greatest engine for
prosperity the world has ever known, but also
underwrites our individual freedoms in many ways. And we value our
business sector, and we value
entrepreneurship. But what we’re seeing across
the developed world — and this will have
manifestations in the developing world — is the
need for more inclusion in growth, making sure
that it’s broad-based, making sure that people
are not left behind in a globalized economy. And that’s a big idea for
the United States and Canada to work together on, along
with our other partners. If we don’t get this right,
if we do not make sure that the average Canadian or
the average American has confidence that the
fruits of their labor, the opportunities for their
children are going to continue to
expand over time, if they see societies in
which a very few are doing better and better and the
middle class and working people are falling further
and further behind, that destabilizes
the economy; it makes it less efficient;
it makes it less rapid in its growth. But it also starts
destabilizing our politics and our democracies. And so, working together to
find effective ways — not to close off borders, not to
pretend that somehow we can shut off trade, not to
forget that we are, ourselves, nations of
immigrants and that diversity is our strength
— but rather to say, yes, the world is big and we are
going to help shape it, and we’re going to value our
openness and our diversity, and the fact that we are
leaders in a global supply chain but we’re going to do
so in ways that make sure everybody benefits — that’s
important work that we’re going to have
to do together. And I know Justin shares
that commitment just as I do. Margaret Brennan. The Press: Thank
you, Mr. President. Some of your critics have
pointed to the incredibly polarized political climate
under your administration as contributing to the rise of
someone as provocative as Donald Trump. Do you feel
responsibility for that, or even some of the
protectionist rhetoric from some Democratic candidates? Do you have a timeline
for when you might make a presidential endorsement? And to follow on my
colleague’s question here, do you feel political heat
is constraining your pool of viable Supreme
Court nominees? Thank you. President Obama:
It’s a three-fer. I think it’s important for
me to nominate a Supreme Court nominee quickly
because I think it’s important for the Supreme
Court to have its full complement of justices. I don’t feel constrained in
terms of the pool to draw from or that I’m having to
take shortcuts in terms of the selection and
vetting process. With respect to
your first question, I’ve actually heard this
argument a number of times. I have been blamed by
Republicans for a lot of things, but being blamed
for their primaries and who they’re selecting for
their party is novel. (laughter) Look, I’ve said — I said it
at the State of the Union that one of my regrets
is the degree to which polarization and the nasty
tone of our politics has accelerated rather than
waned over the course of the last seven and a half years. And I do all kinds of
soul-searching in terms of are there things I can do
better to make sure that we’re unifying the country. But I also have to say,
Margaret, that, objectively, it’s fair to say that the
Republican political elites and many of the information
outlets — social media, news outlets, talk radio,
television stations — have been feeding the Republican
base for the last seven years a notion that
everything I do is to be opposed; that cooperation
or compromise somehow is a betrayal; that maximalist,
absolutist positions on issues are politically
advantageous; that there is a “them”
out there and an “us, ” and “them” are the folks
who are causing whatever problems you’re
experiencing. And the tone of that
politics — which I certainly have not
contributed to — I don’t think that I was the one to
prompt questions about my birth certificate,
for example. I don’t remember
saying, hey, why don’t you ask
me about that. (laughter) Or why don’t you question
whether I’m American, or whether I’m loyal, or
whether I have America’s best interests at heart —
those aren’t things that were prompted by
any actions of mine. And so what you’re seeing
within the Republican Party is, to some degree, all
those efforts over a course of time creating an
environment where somebody like a Donald
Trump can thrive. He’s just doing more of what
has been done for the last seven and a half years. And, in fact, in terms of
his positions on a whole range of issues, they’re not
very different from any of the other candidates. It’s not as if there’s a
massive difference between Mr. Trump’s position on
immigration and Mr. Cruz’s position on immigration. Mr. Trump might just be more
provocative in terms of how he says it, but the actual
positions aren’t that different. For that matter, they’re
not that different from Mr. Rubio’s positions on
immigration — despite the fact that both Mr.
Cruz and Mr. Rubio, their own families are the
products of immigration and the openness of our society. So I am more than happy to
own the responsibility as President, as the only
office holder who was elected by all the
American people, to continue to make efforts
to bridge divides and help us find common ground. As I’ve said before, I think
that common ground exists all across the country. You see it every day in how
people work together and live together and play
together and raise their kids together. But what I’m not going to do
is to validate some notion that the Republican crack-up
that’s been taking place is a consequence of actions
that I’ve taken. And what’s interesting —
I’ll just say one last thing about this — there are
thoughtful conservatives who are troubled by this,
who are troubled by the direction of their party. I think it is very important
for them to reflect on what it is about the politics
they’ve engaged in that allows the circus we’ve
been seeing to transpire, and to do some
introspection. Because, ultimately, I want
an effective Republican Party. I think this country has to
have responsible parties that can govern, and that
are prepared to lead and govern whether they’re in
the minority or in the majority, whether they
occupy the White House or they do not. And I’ve often said
I want a serious, effective Republican Party
— in part to challenge some of the blind spots and
dogmas in the Democratic Party. I think that’s useful. You mentioned
trade, for example. I believe that there have
been bad trade deals on occasion in the past that
oftentimes they have served the interests of global
corporations but not necessarily served the
interests of workers. But I’m absolutely persuaded
that we cannot put up walls around a global economy, and
that to sell a bill of goods to the American people and
workers that if you just shut down trade somehow
your problems will go away prevents us from actually
solving some of these big problems about inequality
and the decline of our manufacturing
base and so on. And that’s an area
where some traditional conservatives and economists have had some important insights. But they can’t be presented
effectively if it’s combined with no interest
in helping workers, and busting up unions, and
providing tax breaks to the wealthy rather than
providing help to folks who are working hard and
trying to pay the bills. And it certainly is not
going to be heard if it’s coupled with vehement,
anti-immigrant sentiment that betrays our values. Okay? The Press: And a
endorsement, sir? President Obama: I think
that the Democratic voters are doing just fine
working this out. I think it’s useful that
we’ve had a vigorous debate among two good people who
care deeply about our country and who have fought
hard on behalf of working people in this country
for a long time. I think it’s been a
good conversation. And my most important role
will be to make sure that after primaries is done I’m
bringing everybody together so that we focus on winning
the general election. The Press: Mr. President,
I’ll be asking the Prime Minister my
question in French, but I will repeat for you
in English afterwards. (as interpreted)
Mr. Trudeau, you have not talked
about softwood lumber, and it’s a major problem for
the bilateral relations. Have you thought about
solutions to avoid — the conflict reopens in October. And you signed several
agreements — trade, environment — but what
can you do so that the implementations survive the
November election and that all of this has to be
restarted a year from now? (asks in English)
— softwood lumber, which is looming over
the bilateral relation? And has any avenue been
explored into avoiding a new conflict in October? And to what extent is the
fear of losing seats for the Democrats due to this issue
kind of hampering progress on this? And that being said, you and
Prime Minister Trudeau have signed a number of
agreements on a number of issues. What can be done for this
progress not to be lost with the arrival of a new
administration and have everything have to be
started all over again? Prime Minister Trudeau: (as
interpreted) For months and months, we have been
preparing the meeting. And this morning, we worked
very hard and we made a lot of progress, and we have
showed what is at stake. A lot is at stake. And we hope that this is
going to be solved shortly to help enormously not
only Canadian workers and Canadian economy, but also
the economy of both our countries. And among these
discussions, of course, we raised the question
of softwood lumber. We keep on working on that. And I’m totally confident
that we are on the right track towards a solution in
the next weeks and months to come. Now, in terms of the
decisions that we have taken and the work we
have done today, I’m extremely confident that
what we have managed to achieve, the agreements
that we have taken and the solutions that we have found
for the problems that we face together, I’m confident
that all this is going to become a reality. Because at every stage, not
only are we talking about what is good for one
side or the other side, but we’re talking about what
is good for both countries. Our economies are
so interwoven, our populations are
so interconnected, that we are going to have
agreement, for instance, that will facilitate
crossing of borders while increasing security
of our citizens. This is good for both sides. And it is where we
worked so hard together. There was a lot of progress
and a lot of success today. (speaks in English) — on
many different issues over the course of an extremely
productive meeting this morning — issues that have
been worked on intensely by our respective friends,
colleagues and delegations over the past
weeks and months. And certainly softwood
lumber came up. And I’m confident that we
are on a track towards resolving this irritant in
the coming weeks and months. But in general, the issues
that we made tremendous progress on I’m extremely
confident will move forward in a rapid and appropriate
fashion because we found such broad agreement on
issues that aren’t just good for one of our
two countries, but indeed both
of our countries. Canadians and Americans,
for their jobs, for our kids and their
futures, for workers, businesses, as we tackle
challenges on the economy, challenges on
the environment, and understand that working
together in constructive, productive ways is exactly
what this relationship and, indeed, this friendship
is all about. So I’m feeling extremely
good about the hard work that was done this
morning, and indeed, about the work remaining to
do over the coming weeks and months on the issues we
brought forward today. President Obama: This issue
of softwood lumber will get resolved in some fashion. Our teams are already
making progress on it. It’s been a longstanding
bilateral irritant, but hardly defines the nature of the U.S.-Canadian relationship. And we have some
very smart people, and they’ll find a way to
resolve it — undoubtedly, to the dissatisfaction of
all parties concerned, because that’s the nature
of these kinds of things, right? Each side will
want 100 percent, and we’ll find a way for
each side to get 60 percent or so of what they need, and
people will complain and grumble, but it
will be fine. (laughter) And in terms of continuity
— one thing I will say — this is an area where I’ll
play the elder statesman, as Alex described me. (laughter) And as somebody who came
in after an administration that, politically, obviously
saw things very differently than I did, what you
discover is that for all the differences you may have
in your political parties, when you’re
actually in charge, then you have
to be practical, and you do what is needed to
be done and what’s in front of you. And one of the things that
is important for the United States, or for Canada, or
for any leading power in the world, is to live up to its
commitments and to provide continuing momentum
on efforts, even if they didn’t start
under your administration. So there were a whole host
of initiatives that began under the Bush
administration — some that I was very enthusiastic
about, like PEPFAR, that has saved millions
of lives and prevented HIV/AIDS, or provided vital
drugs to those already infected with HIV/AIDS in
Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world —
something that President Bush deserves
enormous credit for. We continued that. But there are also
some areas where, when I was outside
the government, I questioned how they
were approaching it. I might have tweaked it. To the extent that it
involved foreign policy, I might say to my foreign
policy partners, look, we have a problem of
doing it this way, but here is a suggestion
for how we can do the same thing, or meet your
interests in a slightly different way. But you’re always concerned
about making sure that the credibility of the United
States is sustained, or the credibility of Canada
is sustained — which is why when there’s turnover
in governments, the work that’s
been done continues. And particularly when you
have a close friendship and relationship with a
partner like Canada, it’s not as if the work
we’re doing on the Arctic or on entry and exit visas
vanishes when the next President comes in. Of course, I intend to make
sure that the next President who comes in agrees
with me on everything. (laughter) But just in case
that doesn’t happen, the U.S.-Canadian
relationship will be fine. All right? Thank you, everybody. (applause)

Robin Kshlerin

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