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Barack Obama to address Canadian Parliament in late June

White House and Canadian officials are eyeing June 29 or 30 as the date for U.S. President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Parliament, it is learned. Obama had promised to visit Canada during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to Washington in March for a state dinner, and now Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is also expected to be in Ottawa for a Three Amigos summit that will immediately precede Obama’s address. Gov.-Gen. David Johnston will host Nieto at an official state dinner, which will be followed by an event in his honour at the National Art Gallery. The meeting would be the first between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico in more than 2½ years. Parliamentarians will also have to stay in Ottawa longer than previously thought to hear Obama’s speech, as the House of Commons was expected to rise for summer break on June 9. The last U.S. president to address a joint session of Parliament was Bill Clinton in 1995. Former prime minister Stephen Harper postponed the last North American leaders summit in January 2015 amid tensions over the Keystone XL pipeline, food labelling and a range of other issues. Pena Nieto’s visit to Ottawa is strictly dependent on Canada lifting its requirement that all Mexican visitors have a visa, a controversial measure put in place in 2009 to curb bogus asylum claims. That policy has strained relations between the two countries and led the Mexican ambassador to Canada to declare that he was “really mad” at the former Harper government for the move. It has been learned that there has been significant progress on this file since the Liberal government’s election, something Trudeau promised last summer in the lead-up to the Oct. 19 election campaign. Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion was tasked by the prime minister with finding a solution to this problem in his ministerial mandate letter.

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