NATO and European leaders to visit Canada for meetings with Trudeau

OTTAWA — The head of NATO and the two top European Union leaders are visiting Canada next week, the Prime Minister's Office says.

First, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will meet at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa in Ontario on Monday. Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, will then go on to Toronto for a speech.

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Trudeau's office says that meeting is a chance to speak up for the rules-based international order that relies on treaties and multinational organizations like NATO to keep individual countries from throwing their weight around.

NATO has been challenged by U.S. President Donald Trump's reluctance to support the alliance and by the rise of non-traditional warfare.

Canada has hundreds of military members on a NATO mission in Latvia, which is a fellow member of the alliance worried about expansionism from neighbouring Russia. There are more Canadian troops in Iraq, as part of a NATO training mission to strengthen that country's military.

On Thursday and Friday, the EU's Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker are to be in Montreal for a summit. Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, represents the leaders of the European Union's member states as president of the European Council; Juncker leads the EU's administration as president of the European Commission.

The Prime Minister's Office says Trudeau will talk to them about economic growth, climate change, gender equality and, again, "defending the rules-based international order."

They'll also talk about CETA, the free-trade deal between Canada and Europe. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstom will also be at the summit.

The agreement is in force provisionally, with more than 90 per cent of it now in effect, but ratification by individual countries is needed to bring it into full force.

The agreement has run into opposition in several European countries, where populist opposition to trade is running high.

Meredith Lilly, a trade expert at Carleton University in Ottawa, said the summit will provide good optics for the Trudeau government as it tries to diversify the country's trade after a rocky renegotation of the its North American trade pact, and a recent diplomatic dust-up with China that has seen the People's Republic block agricultural exports.

"The European Union as a whole is a massive economy and it's important for Canadian trade-diversification goals to be seen to be working with other markets," said Lilly.

"It's important to demonstrate the ways Canada is productively working with other markets that are not China and the United States."

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