Canada PM Trudeau: I have faith in US

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the White House on Thursday he has great faith in the American electoral process.

"The relationship, the friendship between our two countries goes far beyond any two individuals or any ideologies," he said during a news conference with President Barack Obama. "I have tremendous confidence in the American people and I look forward to working with whomever they choose to send to this White House later this year."

Obama said the turmoil in the Republican Party, with anti-establishment candidates leading the party's presidential nomination race, is not the result of actions he has taken as president.

"I have been blamed by Republicans for a lot of things, but being blamed for their primaries and who they're selecting for their party is novel," Obama said. "What I'm not going to do is to validate some notion that the Republican crackup that's been taking place is a consequence of actions that I've taken."

"There are thoughtful conservatives who are troubled by this, who are troubled by the direction of their party," he added.

On the topic of the Supreme Court vacancy, Obama said he's holding out hope that "cooler heads will prevail" and Republicans will back down from their plan to block his nominee.

Obama said he's looking for a candidate whose credentials would earn easy confirmation in a less-heated political environment. He said he's also looking for a candidate with "humility," who doesn't make policy from the bench, and someone who recognizes the role judges play in protecting minorities.

The president also praised Trudeau for his commitment to governing with inclusivity and equality, a likely nod to how the new Canadian leader made headlines in November for appointing a gender-equal Cabinet.

In his opening statement, Obama mentioned that he and Trudeau are working to ease cross-border trade by "reducing bottlenecks and streamlining regulations." Obama also said they discussed how to move forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau checks hands with President Barack Obama during a welcoming ceremony to the White House for an Official Visit March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau checks hands with President Barack Obama during a welcoming ceremony to the White House for an Official Visit March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.

Obama's red-carpet welcome ended a frosty period in U.S.-Canada relations and celebrated their shared goals on climate and trade. On Thursday evening, Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, will attend a State Dinner hosted by the president and first lady Michelle Obama. This will be Canada's first state dinner since 1997.

The United States and Canada agreed to joint steps on Thursday to fight climate change, including cutting methane emissions from oil and gas operations and signing last year's Paris climate deal "as soon as feasible." The Paris accord, approved at a climate change summit in December, requires nations to take concrete steps to regulate emissions linked to global warming.

"This is going to be a big problem for everybody. There are countries that are going to be hit worse by it" than the United States and Canada, Obama said.

"If we don't agree, if we're not aggressive, if we're not far-sighted, if we don't pool our resources around the research and development and clean energy agenda that's required to solve this problem, then other countries won't step up and it won't get solved," he explained.

In October, Trudeau became prime minister with a surprising majority victory, ousting incumbent Stephen Harper. The 43-year-old son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau campaigned on a promise of change in contrast to Harper and the Conservative Party's fiscal and cultural conservatism. Trudeau has pledged to tackle climate change, boost the economy and legalize marijuana.

— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.