PM meeting with U-S officials ahead of trade negotiations

It'll be like a round of Canada-U-S political speed-dating today in Providence, Rhode Island.

Dozens of American governors, several Canadian federal and provincial representatives, will hold meetings in quick succession, hoping to leave a good impression before the relationship gets tested in upcoming trade negotiations.

They're all converging today at a Rhode Island convention centre where about three-dozen U-S state governors are holding their annual summer meeting, with trade uncertainty looming ahead.

The Canadian side will be led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The P-M will deliver a keynote address, participate in a public panel, hold separate meetings with five state governors, and have a formal one-on-one session with Vice-President Mike Pence.

It's all happening with major economic developments potentially days away.

Next week, the U-S is expected to publish its negotiating positions for a new NAFTA, then there's an impending U-S decision on steel tariffs, a dispute over Bombardier, and negotiations aimed at settling the softwood lumber dispute.

Canadian officials say the long-term goal today is to create relationships that could prove useful, should trade talks hit a difficult patch and Canada find itself in need of allies willing to speak up in favour of NAFTA.