Author Topic: US Pres. Obama meets Canadian PM Harper  (Read 1252 times)

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Offline S.M.A.

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US Pres. Obama meets Canadian PM Harper
« on: September 16, 2009, 12:25:34 »
Obviously trade protectionism will be the hot topic of this meeting.

Harper meets with Obama
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 16, 2009 | 11:25 AM ET

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is meeting Wednesday morning with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House, where he is expected to urge him to stand down on the "Buy American" clause.

In his first trip to the White House since Obama assumed office in January, Harper is also scheduled to meet with the leadership of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives on Thursday in Washington.

The oval office discussion on Wednesday is expected to primarily focus on the economy, said Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, who is accompanying Harper.

"Obviously the prime minister will be talking about the economy as well as all of these …protectionist measures," Cannon told CBC News.

The G20 summit in Pittsburgh this weekend, trade issues, restrictions on charter flights to U.S. cities, energy, national security and Afghanistan are also expected to be high on the agenda, Cannon said.

40-minute meeting
The meeting with Obama is scheduled to be at least 40 minutes. But officials have said the prime minister could have up to an hour with the president.

Harper has raised the "Buy American" clause every time he's met with the U.S. president this year, including during Obama's visit to Ottawa in February.

The provision, which is included in the U.S. stimulus package, gives priority to U.S. iron, steel and other manufactured goods for use in state-level and municipal public works and building projects funded with taxpayer stimulus money. Canadian governments and businesses have railed against the policy.

"The United States cannot be a credible voice for keeping trade flows going if it can't deal with trade irritants with its single best trading partner. I think it's critical we make progress on this," Harper said in an interview with CTV that was recorded ahead of his departure on Tuesday.

The Obama administration and the Canadian government have agreed to appoint negotiators to work at removing the provision.

But Harper said real progress cannot likely be made without the support of Congress.

'Bigger challenges are in Congress'
"In the American system, particularly when it comes to issues of trade and protectionism, often our bigger challenges are in Congress, as opposed to the administration," Harper said.

"So far the administration has responded quite positively to our offers and our attempts to deal with this. But it may be the case that the administration alone can't deal with it."

Harper will hold two sessions of meetings on Thursday with top U.S. legislators, including Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The meetings with congressional leaders will be focused on "underscoring the importance of our economic relationship," Cannon said.

"It's important once again to not fall back to the pitfalls of the periods that were in the '30s and early '40s," Cannon said.

The focus on dealing with U.S. legislators is being applauded by some experts.

"We frankly should be working harder with Congress because it's from Congress where 'Buy America' and most of the problems in the Canada-U.S. relationship originate," Colin Robertson, head of the Canadian Embassy's Washington advocacy secretariat, told CBC News.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice and Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan are also joining Harper on the trip.

The prime minister will travel to New York on Friday, where he will address the Canadian-American Business Council and the Canadian Association of New York.

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And here's the joint statement following the meeting
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2009, 13:54:01 »
From the PM's web site:
"President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper today discussed common approaches to accelerating economic recovery in North America and globally.

Unprecedented fiscal stimulus in both countries has helped to stabilize demand and avert deeper levels of economic contraction and job loss, but it is important to remain vigilant.  They agreed to work with other countries at the upcoming Pittsburgh Summit to lay the foundation for balanced and sustainable growth and to further the reform of financial regulations and international institutions to reflect the realities of the global economy.

The Leaders agreed that economic integration is a fundamental source of strength for both economies, that open trade and investment are essential for competitiveness and sustainable growth in North America and globally.

They expressed satisfaction with the productive ministerial dialogue put in place since the President’s visit to Ottawa in February on promoting a secure and efficient border, to contribute equally to North American security and prosperity.


The Prime Minister and the President reviewed progress to date on the U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue launched during President Obama’s visit to Ottawa.  They agreed that the report to leaders presented by ministers (see Annex) represents an important path forward for pursuing our shared objectives of environmental protection and secure energy supply in a balanced and effective manner.

With respect to climate change, they reaffirmed that given the high degree of integration between the Canadian and U.S. economies and energy markets, they should cooperate closely as they develop their respective approaches.  They reiterated the urgency of taking aggressive action to combat climate change and reaffirmed their commitment towards a comprehensive and effective international agreement that puts the world on a clean energy pathway.


The Leaders reviewed developments on a number of shared foreign policy priorities, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Middle East peace, and the Americas.

In particular, they reiterated their shared commitment to helping the Afghan government prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a base for terrorism and they restated U.S. and Canadian support for the peaceful restoration of democratic and constitutional order in Honduras and called on all parties to accept the San José Accord.

The Leaders agreed to work closely together in the coming months on the critical issue of nuclear security and non-proliferation, particularly in promoting concrete outcomes at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April."
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Offline S.M.A.

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Re: US Pres. Obama meets Canadian PM Harper
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2009, 16:28:38 »
And Harper meets US Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill:

Harper in U.S., Day 2: Meetings with congressional leaders, speech in NYC

43 minutes ago

By Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Stephen Harper met Thursday with some of the most powerful politicians in the United States, defending Canadian interests as America's single largest trading partner.

Harper took the unusual step of paying a visit to the majestic Capitol building to meet with Democrat Nancy Pelosi, Republican John Boehner and other influential lawmakers. The trek came a day after he spent more than an hour in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama.

Publicly, his Capitol Hill visit was all platitudes: The U.S. as "far and away our best friend in the world; we are so lucky to have you as a neighbour."

The verbal affection was returned.

"Canada and the United States, as you know, are the closest of friends and we value that friendship enormously in the Congress of the United States," Pelosi, the House speaker, told a brief news conference.

Boehner, the House minority leader, told Harper: "We enjoy a great friendship with the Canadian people, but like any relationship, it requires communication and discussion, and so I'm glad that you're here."

Behind closed doors, however, the Prime Minister's Office said Harper and a coterie of cabinet ministers were forcefully pressing their points on the so-called Buy American provisions that Congress inserted into Obama's US$787-billion economic stimulus package earlier this year.

They sat down with several U.S. senators that also included Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader.

Harper "emphasized the strength of the bilateral relationship between Canada and the United States" and took pains to register Canada's opposition to "Buy American," spokesman Dmitri Soudas said in a statement.

"The Prime Minister took the opportunity to raise the continued importance to fight protectionism by promoting open and free trade ... and expressed the importance of the role that the American Senate can play in supporting a resolution."

The group also discussed climate change and energy security, border management and security, as well as "international security issues such as Afghanistan," Soudas said.

There is reportedly little appetite among those in Congress to revisit "Buy American," and lawmakers on Capitol Hill are currently preoccupied with something more pressing: the health-care reform battle.

But David Biette, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said Harper's visit is nonetheless a vital one.

Congress, after all, is where much of the true power resides in Washington. Obama himself has been actively appealing for months to lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans alike, for support for his health-care overhaul.

That's something Harper clearly understands, said Biette.

"Sure it's symbolic, but it's important," he said.

"The prime minister knows how busy they are here, but it's not like Pelosi and Reid are only thinking about health care. When a head of a foreign government comes along, they will listen to him, and it will register."

On Wednesday, Obama acknowledged that Canada had "legitimate concerns" about "Buy American," but also suggested the threat was being overblown by America's trading partners.

But Harper stressed the provisions remain a genuine concern to Canadians.

"These are important irritants. They are having some real impacts," Harper said.

"I would emphasize that it is critical, at a time where we're trying to see a recovery in the global economy, where forces of protectionism are a very significant threat, that we continue to demonstrate to the world that Canada and the United States can manage their trade relations in a way that's extremely positive and a model for other countries."

Following his meetings in Washington, Harper was scheduled to travel to New York for a speech to the Canadian American Business Council.
Our Country
"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves."   - Lao Zi (老子)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
- Winston Churchill