Prime Minister Trudeau & President of European Commission stop in Kingston

Von der Leyen and Trudeau talk war in Ukraine and clean energy

The two came to the Canadian Forces base.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen visited Kingston’s Canadian Forces Base (CFB) on March 7. During her two-day visit to Canada, she was hosted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and they both attended the CFB for a joint press conference.
“It is a real pleasure to welcome President von der Leyen to Canada,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. 
Von der Leyen and Trudeau discussed shared priorities such as responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, fighting climate change, promoting sustainable economic growth, and female economic empowerment.

Russian invasion of Ukraine

During the visit, Trudeau and von der Leyen praised Canada’s support for Ukraine in their fight against the Russian invasion.
The event began with a welcoming ceremony at the CFB’s Forde building before moving to another location on the base for the conference.
Trudeau said the visit took place at the CFB to meet Canadian military personnel involved in training Premium Security Forces, Canadians deployed in Poland to support Ukrainian refugees, and those in Latvia supporting NATO.
“There can be no doubt, just as the result of our brave women and men in uniform is unwavering, so too is the bond between Canada and Europe,” Trudeau said.
Canada has provided military support to Ukraine and put in place sanctions and punitive economic measures against the Russian regime, Trudeau said.
“Together President von der Leyen and I also co-hosted an international pledging event for Ukrainians who have been forced from their homes, many of whom have become refugees.”
“For as long as it takes, we will stand shoulder to shoulder together with our European partners.”
Trudeau proceeded to announce Canada extending Operation Unifier until the fall while deploying Canadian Air Forces (CAF) medical trainers to help Ukrainian forces with combat medical skills. Canada is one of the EU’s most trusted partners who share the same vision of the world and democratic values, von der Leyen said.
She further expressed her admiration for the Canadian troops who traveled from bases in Kingston and Edmonton to Poland in April of last year.

“We’re both setting up our support to Ukraine, including our military support, because Ukrainians have all the necessary grit and spirit—but what they need is weapons,” she added.

Noting the EU has already delivered 12 billion euros worth of military equipment so far, von der Leyen said Europe aims to train 30,000 troops by the end of the year.

“I very much welcome [Trudeau’s] intention to deliver generators to Ukraine. [They’re] very much needed in these times, where Putin is strategically destroying the energy infrastructure and civil infrastructure in Ukraine,” von der Leyen said.

“We have strongly aligned our successive packages of sanctions against Russia, together with our G7 partners. Sanctions are biting deep and hard—from going after Putin’s cronies and propagandists to draining the resources he needs to wage his war.”

Von der Leyen welcomed Canada’s readiness to join forces with the EU to support mining in Ukraine.

Clean energy deals

Both leaders are prioritizing growth in clean tech, which according to Trudeau, will create jobs and a supply of “critical minerals” for the world.

Von der Leyen said critical minerals—those vital for technology such as batteries, electric vehicles, or wind turbines—are the “lifeblood” of the economy.

The minerals required to reach the EU’s goals of decarbonizing the economy are in limited supply, according to Canada’s Critical Minerals Strategy.

“The European Union’s focus is very strong on the resilience of our supply chains,” von der Leyen said.

Europe is currently reliant on China for 98 per cent of its rare earth minerals. Von der Leyen said Europe wants to work with Canada going forward, as they have all the required materials for lithium-ion battery production and vast experience in mining critical minerals.

“We know the importance you attach the labor rights to environmental protection and to the respect for local communities,” von der Leyen said.

Trudeau and von der Leyen visited Li Cycle, a Kingston-based company which recycles lithium-ion batteries.  

“Li Cycle is not only creating jobs and building up our critical mineral supply in Canada, they’re opening plants in Europe too,” Trudeau said.

The company is undergoing a European expansion, expected in late 2023. Li Cycle is opening a new Spoke—which produces energy storage and electric vehicle (EV) batteries—at a facility in Germany.

According to a Li Cycle press release, a growing customer base in the European markets requires access to clean renewable energy.

“We believe that Prime Minister Trudeau’s and President von der Leyen’s visit further reinforces Li-Cycle’s exceptional value proposition for Canada’s and Europe’s burgeoning battery supply chain,” Li-Cycle Co-founder Tim Johnston said in the release.

By 2030, the EU plans to produce 10 million tons of hydrogen. The two leaders aim to develop a reliable hydrogen supply chains between Canada and the EU.

“An enhanced action plan on hydrogen will mobilize investment, support businesses, share expertise and get clean Canadian hydrogen to Europe,” Trudeau said.

The plan will standardize hydrogen exchange in trade and help both sides take a ubiquitous approach, according to a press release. 

“We have to pave a path for the future, and our future will be renewables,” von der Leyen said. “The vast majority of energy will be renewables and hydrogen.”

Canada will continue to export natural gas and oil but recognize the shift toward renewables is essential, Trudeau said.

“We are there to support trusted partners, as the world is discovering that Russia and other authoritarian states are not trusted partners upon which to build strong economic growth for our citizens or for our countries,” he continued.

Joint efforts between Canada and the EU will set them up to be global leaders, according to von der Leyen.

“Together we can rally the international community behind net-zero by 2050.”

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