The worst-ever presidential visits to Canada, from a snub to two dead U.S. leaders
U.S. President Joe Biden is awkwardly arriving in Ottawa just as the incumbent government faces down a potentially existential scandal. It’s also not entirely clear why Biden is here: Both the U.S. president and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been rather vague about what they plan to talk about.
But however it goes, it almost certainly won’t be the worst example of a U.S. president visiting Canada. In the 100 years that U.S. presidents have been making state visits to their northern neighbour, more than a few have gone utterly off the rails.
Easily the worst presidential visit was also the first one. In 1923, Warren Harding was returning from a visit to Alaska when he decided to make a brief stopover in Vancouver — the first-ever visit to Canada by a sitting U.S. president.
Harding had lunch with the premier, played a round of golf and greeted ecstatic crowds unlike any ever seen in the B.C. city. But as the president’s warship left Vancouver harbour, Harding was already badly ill with a mysterious sickness that would kill him five days later. The president’s health wasn’t great when he first stepped onto Canadian soil, but it can’t be entirely discounted that a case of Canadian food poisoning might have sent him over the edge.
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