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Biden pledged to work with Canada on 'Buy American' during call with Trudeau, official says

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden by phone Friday — the first opportunity for the two leaders to chart a fresh course for the Canada-U.S. relationship after four tumultuous years with Donald Trump.

The 30-minute phone call — Biden's first with a foreign leader as president — was warm, friendly and collegial, according to a senior government official who spoke confidentially to CBC News because they were not authorized to speak in public about the matter.

"Many of the priorities are aligned. He's got a good rapport with us and wants to work with us, as we do with him," the official said. 

The official said the two leaders found common ground on such issues as the COVID-19 response, economic recovery, climate change, cyber security and international relations.

Trudeau expressed his disappointment with Biden's early move to effectively cancel the Keystone XL pipeline by revoking its permit, the official said. Biden acknowledged the hardship the decision would create in Canada, the official said — but defended his decision by saying he was making good on a campaign promise and restoring a decision made by the former Obama administration.

The idea of retaliatory sanctions against the U.S. — something Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has been calling for — didn't come up during the conversation, said the official.

The official said that Biden is aware of the deep supply chain connections between the Canadian and the U.S. economies, and the disruptive effect that 'Buy America' provisions could have if they are included in his administration's future infrastructure spending plans.

The president pledged that officials from both countries would work together to make sure Canada is not sideswiped by the details, the official said. 

Pipeline decisions sets dangerous precedent, premiers say

The phone call came a day after Trudeau held a call with provincial and territorial premiers, several of whom pressured the PM to push back against what they called a dangerous precedent. Kenney, Ontario's Doug Ford, Saskatchewan's Scott Moe and Quebec's Fran├žois Legault all pressed the prime minister to take action to save Keystone. 

The details of that meeting were first reported by Global News and confirmed by CBC News. 

President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, including an order revoking the presidential permit granted to the contentious Keystone XL oil pipeline. (Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

In a letter sent to Trudeau today, Kenney called for economic retaliation against the U.S. or compensation for TC Energy and the province for the loss of billions of dollars.

"By retroactively revoking the presidential permit for this project without taking the time to discuss it with their longest standing ally, the United States is setting a deeply disturbing precedent for any future projects and collaboration between our two nations," the letter reads.

"The fact that it was a campaign promise makes it no less offensive. Our country has never surrendered our vital economic interests because a foreign government campaigned against them."

WATCH |'Sanctions are always on the table': Premier Scott Moe

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the federal government should consider sanctions when deciding how to react to President Joe Biden's decision to revoke the Keystone XL permit. 2:26

Moe said cancelling the project would endanger North American energy security, kill jobs on both sides of the border and scare investors away from energy projects.

"It is an important piece of infrastructure and cancelling it retroactively ... does have implications on the investment environment as we move forward," Moe told CBC's Power and Politics.

Biden long opposed to Keystone XL

Biden believes a brisk economic recovery doesn't have to come at the expense of the environment, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.

"His record shows the American people that he's committed to clean energy jobs, to jobs that are not only good, high-paying jobs, union jobs, but ones that are also good for our environment. He thinks it's possible to do both," Psaki said.

Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as U.S. vice-president under President Barack Obama, who blocked the project in 2015.

"He had opposed the Keystone pipeline ... and he's been consistent in his view and he was delivering on a promise he made to the American public during the campaign," Psaki said.

WATCH |Trade war with the U.S. not in the interest of Alberta and Saskatchewan, says parliamentary secretary

Paul Lefebvre, parliamentary secretary to Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan, rebuffs calls from Premier Jason Kenney and Premier Scott Moe to impose economic sanctions on the U.S. in response to President Joe Biden rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit. 2:14

Canadian proponents of the project have argued that Canada has strong environmental regulations governing the extraction of crude oil, and that the project is much more environmentally-friendly today than it was five years ago when Obama blocked it. 

On Monday, after news emerged of Biden's plans to scuttle the pipeline, Keystone XL owner TC Energy announced it would ensure the project achieved net zero emissions upon its launch in 2023. The company added it would be fully powered by renewable energy sources no later than 2030.

In an interview airing on CBC Radio's The House on Saturday, Canada's Ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman said she did everything she could to make the case for the pipeline to Biden's team.

"I personally worked hard over the last several months with Alberta, with the industry, with colleagues and in Ottawa to make the case for the Keystone XL project with the incoming Biden team, the transition team and their advisers," Hillman told host Chris Hall.

"My view is that the decision of the Biden team is a final decision."

WATCH: Can Trudeau convince Biden to reverse course on Keystone XL?

John Manley, former deputy prime minister of Canada, and Gordon Giffin, former U.S. ambassador to Canada, weigh in. 2:01

Trudeau could try to extract concessions from Biden on other Canadian priorities in compensation for the domestic political punishment he'll endure if the pipeline isn't built, said former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley.

"If I were in his shoes, I would say, 'Joe, I really need your help to get those two Canadians out of China,'" Manley told CBC's Power & Politics. He was referring to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the Canadians imprisoned by China in December 2019 following Canada's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on U.S. extradition charges.

Manley said another potential concession could come in the form of an exemption for Canada from any 'Buy America' legislation passed by Congress.

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source https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-biden-keystone-first-call-1.5883705?cmp=rss

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