SEATTLE — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued his efforts to promote Canada's technology sector to officials in Washington state on Thursday, meeting with Gov. Jay Inslee a day after attending the secretive Microsoft CEO Summit.
Trudeau and Inslee discussed, among other issues, the development of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, an initiative that aims to strengthen technology industry ties between British Columbia and Washington.
The pair also spoke about trade and investment opportunities and innovation in the energy sector, said Trudeau's office. In brief remarks before the meeting, the prime minister said Washington and Canada share a lot in common.
A small group of demonstrators protesting Canada's Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion chant as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves a hotel steps away following a meeting on May 18, 2017, in Seattle, Wash. (Photo: Elaine Thompson/AP via The Canadian Press)
"We're both strongly engaged on issues of climate change, on issues of openness to trade, on leadership on refugees as well and an understanding that diversity can be a real source of strength," he said.
Inslee said the state and country share an "incredible commitment" to defeating climate change and a recognition that they can grow their economies at the same time.
"It is a great pleasure to know we have a national leader in the North American economy that is committed to that," he said.
But protesters clad in yellow hazardous material suits that read "Keystone XL Toxic Cleanup Crew" gathered outside the hotel to criticize Trudeau's environmental record, arguing his support of pipelines is at odds with any global warming promises he has made.
Chanting "Tar sands or clean lands, Trudeau you have a choice," the group of about a dozen people demanded that the prime minister rescind his support of Keystone XL and the Trans Mountain expansion, two pipelines that have generated considerable debate in the U.S.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee share a laugh after they posed for photographers before a meeting on May 18, 2017, in Seattle, Wash. (Photo: Elaine Thompson/AP via The Canadian Press)
Janene Hampton of the Colville Okanagan Tribe in northern Washington said Trudeau claims he cares about indigenous people yet he sides with companies that want to build pipelines that threaten the water sources of Aboriginal Peoples.
"He's approving these pipelines and the things that they're asking for. He's supporting the corporations. He says that he's an indigenous peoples' ally. Well, that's not being an ally," she said.
Protester Mike Foster said he's especially concerned about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Alberta to the West Coast and the impact that increased tanker traffic will have on Washington state's endangered killer whale population.
"We have 78 orca whales left in Puget Sound and the number of tankers coming through these waters would be increased 700 per cent," he said.
"He's supporting the corporations. He says that he's an indigenous peoples' ally. Well, that's not being an ally."
Kinder Morgan Canada's $7.4 billion pipeline expansion, approved by Trudeau's government last year, would increase the number of tankers in coastal waters seven-fold, from about five per month to 34 per month.
In 2015, former U.S. president Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from Alberta to Nebraska, but President Donald Trump overturned the decision this year.
After leaving Seattle, Trudeau was set to visit video-game producer Electronic Arts' Capture Lab in Burnaby, B.C. The lab allows the company to record human movement, upon which it can model its animated characters.
On Wednesday, he addressed the closed-door CEO Summit at Microsoft's sprawling headquarters in Redmond, just outside Seattle. His office said he was there to promote investment in Canada's technology sector and draw global talent north.