Canada PM, Washington governor discuss trade, climate change

Jay Inslee, Justin TrudeauThe Associated Press
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee share a laugh after they posed for photographers before a meeting Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Seattle. The two were to discuss trade, regional economic development, and climate. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee met Thursday to discuss a shared interests ranging from trade to climate change.

Trudeau told reporters their private meeting at a Seattle hotel was an opportunity "to talk about the incredibly close ties between Washington state and British Columbia and indeed, all of Canada."

"We're both strongly engaged on issues of climate change, issues of openness to trade, leadership on refugees as well, and an understanding that diversity can be a real source of strength," he said.

Inslee called Trudeau's visit fitting "because we share so much more with Canada than just a common border."

"We share an incredible commitment to defeating climate change and a recognition that we can grow our economies while we're doing that," he said. "It is a great pleasure to know that we have a national leader in the North American continent who's committed to that."

In a news release issued after the meeting, Inslee's office said the governor and prime minister discussed their respective efforts on curbing carbon pollution: with Inslee talking about his clean air rule to cap carbon pollution, and Trudeau describing pollution reduction initiatives in Canada's largest provinces, including British Columbia.

They also discussed increased oil tanker traffic in the Salish Sea, as well as efforts to protect the area's southern resident orca whale pod.

Washington state and the Canadian province of British Columbia are involved in initiatives promoting clean energy and the feasibility of a high-speed rail connection connecting Canada to the Pacific Northwest.

The state's transportation budget signed by Inslee earlier this week includes $300,000 to study the possibility of a train that would travel 250 miles per hour (402 kilometers per hour) from Vancouver to Portland, Oregon with stops in Seattle and Olympia.

Canada is Washington state's second largest destination for exports behind China, according to the state's Commerce Department.

Bilateral trade between the Washington state and Canada totaled $19.8 billion last year, with $12.8 billion of that accounting for Washington imports from Canada.

The prime minister arrived in the state Wednesday to attend and speak at Microsoft's CEO Summit in Redmond.

The event, which was closed to the public and media, focused on cybersecurity and the space race. Trudeau's office said he was the first sitting head of government or state invited to address the summit and attended so he could promote Canada's technology industry.

After their Seattle meeting, Inslee was traveling to Mexico to meet up with a state delegation on a trade mission and Trudeau was heading to Burnaby, British Columbia for an event.

When Trudeau left the Seattle hotel, he was met by about a dozen protesters opposed to Canada's Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion and carried signs saying "Trudeau You have a Choice" and "Tar Sands or Clean Lands."