Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Western Washington Wednesday and Thursday to take part in the Microsoft CEO Summit and meet with Gov. Jay Inslee.
The prime minister's office said Trudeau will be at Microsoft's Redmond campus to promote the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, encourage investment in the Canadian technology sector, and draw global talent to Canada.
"Canada's greatest strength is its skilled, hard-working, creative, and diverse workforce," Trudeau said in a statement. "Canada is recognized as a world leader in research and development in many areas like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 3D programming. Our government will continue to help Canadian businesses grow and create good, well-paying middle-class jobs in today's high-tech economy."
More than 150 CEOs are expected at the event, titled "The CEO Agenda: Navigating Change."
Trudeau will stay overnight in downtown Seattle and meet with Inslee Thursday morning before leaving. Climate action is on the governor's list.
James Hill, Consul General of Canada in the Seattle office, has been coordinating the prime minister’s trip.
“Whenever you have a head of state or head of government anywhere, it’s a thousand moving pieces or more. So coordinating those and making sure that everything goes to the best possible script is a big challenge,” Hill said. “But we’re excited.”
Hill said that their office has no record of any prime minister visiting the Seattle area. He said there certainly has been no record of a visit in the last 30 years.
“We’re happy that we have the chance to host him and we’re happy that he gets to see the vibrant Pacific Northwest on this side of the border, and Seattle has a big vibe going on and we want him to feel that,” Hill added.
Trudeau's visit wasn't completely smooth.
Environmental activists gathered at the Canadian consulate to protest the prime minister's support for two oil pipelines, the Trans Mountain and Keystone XL, which transport oil from the Canadian tar sands.
“It's toxic, hurts indigenous people, hurts farmers through imminent domain,” said Scott Turner, an environmental activist. “Tar sands oil is three times as toxic with greenhouse emissions as conventional oil. And it stops the flow of getting us into renewable energies.”
First nations leaders say increased tanker traffic would put the Salish Sea at risk for oil spills and whale strikes.
“It'll increase our tanker traffic from the Port of Vancouver through the Salish Sea through the straights, which is my front yard, by over 700 percent,” said Vanessa Castle of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.
“Those are the grounds we wish in, where we get our food. Our salmon will have a huge impact, our orca population. The sound – the oil tankers scare away our orca population.
Castle tried to hand deliver a letter asking the prime minister to choose clean energy. Seattle police blocked the consulate's entrance, but a security guard brought the letter upstairs.