WASHINGTON – After years of bickering, President Bush (search) is hoping to soothe relations with Canada when he arrives in Ottawa Tuesday to talk trade and security issues with Prime Minister Paul Martin (search).
The visit is focused on creating goodwill, but thorny economic issues probably will come up at the meeting between leaders of the two nations that have the world's largest trading partnership -- more than $1 billion in business a day.
The two are in a dispute over a tariff the United States has placed on imports of softwood lumber logged in Canada. Also, Canadian ranchers are upset about the U.S. ban on live Canadian cattle that was imposed after a lone case of mad cow disease (search) was discovered in Alberta in May 2003.
Bush and Martin also are expected to talk about continuing violence in Iraq and the upcoming elections there, security on the U.S.-Canada border, the U.S. continental missile defense program (search), the war on terrorism and efforts to expand democracy to other corners of the world.
This is Bush's fourth meeting with Martin, Canada's former finance minister and a wealthy shipping magnate. The prime minister has repeatedly expressed a desire to rebuild U.S.-Canada relations, which were cooled by his predecessor, Jean Chretien (search), who decided against sending Canadian troops to Iraq. Polls show more than 80 percent of Canadians still support that decision.
Bush's visit is expected to be protested by anti-American demonstrators upset about the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and what they view as the Bush administration's disinterest in Canada. A noontime protest rally being planned in Ottawa is expected to draw thousands of marchers demonstrating about Iraq and missile defense.
Bush will meet with Martin and various Canadian ministers before attending a working lunch and a joint news conference. Later, he will tour the National Archives Preservation Center (search), a repository for North American historical documents and cultural heritage. Bush will meet with opposition leader, Stephen Harper, and later will attend a dinner at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (search).
On Wednesday, Bush will travel to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to give a speech. Halifax and other maritime provinces received tens of thousands of Americans stranded following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. More than 200 jetliners heading for the United States were diverted to Canada after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. About 7,000 people on 44 planes went to Halifax.