OTTAWA - Outgoing U.S. Vice President Joe Biden hailed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as genuine leaders during a time when they are in short supply at a state dinner in his honor in Canada on Thursday night.
Biden said he's never seen Europeans engaged in as much self-doubt as they are now and said there are more challenges to the liberal international order in any time since the end of World War II.
“The world is going to spend a lot of time looking to you Mr. Prime Minister,” Biden told a crowd of Canadian dignitaries. “Viva la Canada because we need you very, very badly.”
Biden noted there's a lot of soul searching going in the United States and Europe.
“There are periods when the number of genuine leaders on a continent are in short supply and when they are in heavy supply,” Biden said. “We're going to get through this period because we are Americans and Canadians.”
Biden will meet again with Trudeau on Friday and also speak to Canada's 10 premiers about climate change, which he called the most “consequential issue of our generation.”
Trudeau's Liberal government is poised to agree with the provinces on a carbon tax. His government is worried what the new Trump administration will mean for North American efforts to combat climate change. Trump has tweeted that “global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
Biden said he knew Justin's farther, late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Biden said Pierre reached out to him after Biden lost his wife and daughter in a car accident. Trudeau looked touched when Biden said “You're a successful father when your children turn out better than you.”
Biden also joked about the young Trudeau's looks.
“I remember when I was eye candy,” Biden said to laughs.
Trudeau also paid tribute Biden in a week of tributes for the 47th vice president. Biden was honored for more than two hours by Republicans and Democrats in the Senate on Wednesday. Biden also made news this week when he said he's not ruling out running for president in 2020.
It's the second state dinner for the two countries this year. Obama hosted Trudeau for a state dinner in March. Obama also visited Ottawa in June and spoke in the Canadian Parliament.