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Biden ‘jokes’ to Canadian leader that he wishes opposition wasn’t allowed in America

By Sarah May on
 March 25, 2023

During a diplomatic visit to Canada on Friday, President Joe Biden raised eyebrows during an exchange with Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre when he appeared to reveal his regret that citizens of the United States hold differing political views, as Fox News reports.

The incident unfolded at the House of Commons as Biden was accompanied by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a meet-and-greet with senators, party leaders, and other dignitaries, including Poilievre.

“Loyal opposition?”

As Biden made his way through the line of VIPs, he eventually came to the head of the country's Conservative party, who introduced himself by saying, “Pierre Poilievre, leader of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition.”

Biden replied by asking, “Loyal opposition?”

Poilievre answered, “We believe that opposition is an act of loyalty in our system.”

The U.S. president quipped, “We do too, unfortunately.”

Poilievre, Biden meet

Despite that somewhat tense introduction, Poilievre and Biden met Friday on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and, according to the Conservative leader, touched on a number of timely topics, according to the National Post.

After the meeting, Poilievre reported that he asked Biden to eliminate the U.S. government's rule requiring COVID-19 vaccinations before any Canadian is permitted to enter the country.

Pointing out that Canada permits unvaccinated Americans to cross the border, Poilievre declared, “There are millions of good, decent, honourable people who, through a personal medical decision, are discriminated against at the border.”

“I encouraged the president to lift those restrictions to allow them freedom of mobility,” added Poilievre, who rose to his party's leadership roughly six months ago in large part because of his support for lifting vaccine and mask mandates.

Subtle tensions

Further revealing the tone and tenor of his meeting with Biden, Poilievre noted his belief that the president intends to be a “friendly” and “decent” neighbor to and partner with Canada, and he also indicated that he and Biden touched on the importance of Canada beefing up its defense systems and discussed the former's interest in having his country exempted from “Buy American” policies implemented by the U.S. federal government.

Another curious moment between the two men occurred when Biden was addressing the House of Commons, and he approvingly noted the fact that 50% of his Cabinet positions are held by women, something that is also true of Trudeau's,

That remark prompted loud applause from the chamber, but when Biden noticed that Poilievre and others in his party did not immediately rise to clap, the president suggested, “Even if you don't agree guys, I'd stand up.”

Biden's gentle admonishment produced its desired effect, as Poilievre and others did subsequently stand in acknowledgment, with the Conservative leader later stating when questioned about the awkward moment, “We support gender equality for all Canadians.”

Dinner dig?

Though Biden arguably let his own mask slip a little when he lamented the existence of political opposition in his own country, perhaps Trudeau's staff did as well, as evidenced by a supposed mix-up regarding Poilievre's invitation to a gala dinner held on Friday night, as the Toronto Star noted.

The official guest list was released by Trudeau's office on the morning of the event, but curiously, Poilievre's name was omitted, despite the inclusion of other opposition figures.

After Poilievre's office informed the prime minister's staff that no invitation had ever materialized, Trudeau's aides produced screenshots showing an emailed invitation sent to a personal parliamentary address.

Poilievre fired back that the screenshots revealed that the invitation had been dispatched to an address he had not used in years and one which explicitly notifies senders that it is no longer monitored, perhaps an indication that Trudeau is every bit as irritated by the concept of political opposition as Biden revealed himself to be.