Rhode Island to host Canadian PM, 30 governors at NGA next week

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially announced Friday he’ll be meeting with U.S. governors in Rhode Island next week as part of a three-day summit.

The National Governors Association summer meeting will kick off Wednesday night in Providence, bringing 30 governors and more than 1,000 people to the area, according to Gov. Gina Raimondo.

“It was a competitive process,” Raimondo said Friday of getting the conference held in Rhode Island. “It hasn’t been here in a very long time. I think what happened is I gave a speech to the other governors and promised lobster on the Atlantic, and that got them all.”

The jam-packed agenda for the conference ends with a clambake in Newport and fireworks on Saturday night.

Keynote speakers at the NGA meeting include Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Trudeau, who said Friday he would be focusing on trade, border security and climate change.

“No countries share a closer bond than Canada and the United States,” Trudeau said in a statement. “I will continue to work with all orders of the U.S. government to create good, middle class jobs on both sides of the border, and to find solutions to the challenges we face together.”

“I’m excited to have the prime minister here, and of course show off Rhode Island to him,” Raimondo added. “I believe anyone who comes to Rhode Island falls in love with Rhode Island.”

Raimondo said the most pressing issue she plans to discuss at the NGA meeting is the opioid overdose crisis.

“It’s the biggest public health crisis that we face in Rhode Island and that many governors are struggling with, so I want to talk about that and see if I can get some ideas. Because people are dying and we need to do more,” Raimondo said.

She also touted the economic benefit to the region. Events will be held at various Providence venues including the Convention Center, Providence Performing Arts Center, Biltmore and Omni Hotels.

“We’ll have over 1,000 people here staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants. So it’s great for our economy, it’s great for tourism,” Raimondo said. “I joked, I gave a speech saying ‘we’re going to have a clambake for you.’ A lot of the governors from Iowa and Ohio didn’t know what that was. I think they’re going to come here and fall in love. It puts Rhode Island on the map.”

Raimondo said President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both been invited to the NGA summit. A spokesperson for the event said neither man has confirmed if he will attend.