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President Obama to Visit Canada


Army.ca Fixture
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from CTVNews.net

Barack Obama to visit Canada after inauguration
Updated Sat. Jan. 10 2009 2:13 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

U.S. president-elect Barack Obama will visit Canada for his first foreign visit after his inauguration later this month, CTV News has learned.

"(Obama) has accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to visit Canada once he is sworn in as president on January 20th," CTV's Robert Fife said Saturday.

The planned trip will continue a longstanding tradition of new American presidents choosing Canada for their first official state visit.

Fife said the tradition was broken by President George Bush after his election when he visited Mexico instead.

The fact that Obama has revived the tradition of earlier presidents bodes well for Canada, Fife said.

"This has got to please the government and please Canadians, in general," he told Newsnet.

This "clearly shows that Barack Obama understands that Canada is an important player," he said.

Details of the trip are still emerging, but Fife said Canada and the U.S. have a variety of bilateral issues to discuss.

"There was a concern that with the American economy in such dire straits -- and the fact that there are so many global problems facing the Americans -- that he (would) not come to Canada right away," Fife said.

"(But) clearly, if the economy is going to be a major issue for (Canadian and U.S. leaders) they will probably want to work as closely as possible."

Fife added that the visit will also give Obama and Harper an opportunity to discuss climate change issues.

Harper has proposed a North American accord to deal with the issue. Obama, too, has indicated he wants to change American policies to deal with global warming and energy issues.

Obama has also said he wants to shift America's focus back to Afghanistan from Iraq, making it a bigger priority in the coming months and years.

"Clearly, there is recognition here that Canada has carried a significantly heavy load in Afghanistan with loss of lives," Fife said.

Regardless, the Canadian left will never accept that the Canadian right has far more in common with the Democrats than with the Republicans. It will be amusing to see how the Liberal/NDP propaganda machine spins a more cozy relationship between Mr Harper and Mr Obama than that which existed under Mr Harper and Mr Bush. Indeed, how will they demonize the US president in an attempt to discredit Mr Harper in a similar vein to what they tried in the last two elections?
All the Obamabots up here will be absolutely rapturous at the Messiah's arrival, I'm sure.
Methinks that there have been waaaaay too many expectations linked to Mr Obama.

AS bunch of people are on for a dissapointment.
Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail web site, is the transcript of a ‘roundtable discussion’ on Pres. Obama’s forthcoming trip to Canada:

Part 1 of 2

Globe Roundtable
John Manley, Jodi White, Doug McArthur and The Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Simpson discuss the future of U.S. - Canada relations

Globe and Mail Update
January 21, 2009 at 3:55 PM EST

Jeffrey Simpson: Welcome to The Globe and Mail's podcast. I am Jeffrey Simpson, National Affairs Columnist sitting in for Editor in Chief Edward Greenspon who's away. As always, our participants are John Manley, Jodi White and Doug McArthur. Welcome to you all.

All: Good morning. Thank you.

Jeffrey Simpson: Everyone around the world is transfixed by the arrival in office of Barack Obama as President of the United States. He's indicated that his first visit overseas will be to Canada. John Manley is a former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. If you were briefing the Canadian Prime Minister as to how to prepare for his first meeting with Mr. Obama, what two items would you put at the top of the agenda that you would want to discuss with the new President?

John Manley: First of all, the early meetings are important and I think it's a very good sign that the new President is coming to Canada early in his term because usually it's a challenge for us just to get any of our issues on the agenda in that great maw of U.S. politics in Washington. So the fact that he's going to have to think about Canada for a day or so is a really good thing. In the bilateral there will be a lot of things discussed but, you know, I think at the top of the list I'd say first of all let's see if we have a common view on, the conflict in Afghanistan, it's something that Canadians have paid significantly for both in lives and treasure and therefore we really need to talk to the President about what his intentions are. He said in his campaign that it would be a priority for him. This is where we can really talk to him, you know as equals. The second thing I'd go to is North American energy supply and climate change. I think that we're ... we will see a sea change in climate change policies in the United States. I don't think it makes a lot of sense for us to do to develop a climate change policy at a micro level, either provincially or states. And even between Canada and the U.S. I think we we need to find a common approach to climate change and other environmental issues. So there's number one and two for me.

Jeffrey Simpson: Jodi - you used to be Chief of Staff to a Minister of Foreign Affairs by the name of Joe Clark, you know what these meetings are like. What would be at the top of your list?

Jodi White: Well, I don't disagree at all with what John has suggested. Those are obviously key. But I think if I pull back a little bit I think the two things I would want to try to accomplish is - one, to talk about this extraordinary relationship that Canada and the U.S. has and how it is unique to the world in terms of co-dependency on each other in a number of ways. So just the very broad view on that relationship and to underline the importance of it to both sides by referring to some of the specifics. But I think secondly, I would very much want to try to develop, or send a message about that we have views on other things in the world as well and we are a player and we want to have a partnership with them and dialogue about some of those other things. But that sometimes the U.S. may want to even listen to us on issues. I mean there may be Middle East things. We noticed yesterday he reached out to the Muslims of the world. There may be things in that area, you know, Commonwealth partners we have where we may be able to be helpful. I just think, I guess one of the niggling problems I have these days is it sounds to me like we keep talking in Ottawa as if we're waiting to see what the U.S. is going to do and then we'll decide and ... and I think it's important for us to show that we have views in the world and relationships and we can be a help to them with messages, etc. So those are the two things I would want to get through.

Jeffrey Simpson: Doug McArthur, you used to hold a senior position in a Provincial Government, what would you say to the new Prime Minister in dealing with the new President?

Doug McArthur: Well, I would say that one of the top things to talk about is our economic relations and trade in particular. I think that we'd want to explain to the new President what we are doing on the economy side. I think there's certainly an awareness in Ottawa of the importance of the economic relationship. But I think there's going to be questions there about exactly what Canada's doing, how much Canada is sharing the load with respect to trying to maintain a vibrant international economy and whether or not Canada is addressing issues in a co-operative way or at least in a way that will be helpful with the North American economy. So I would want to talk a bit about that and how to co-ordinate efforts and want to make sure that they understood that we're prepared to share our load but we do have concerns about trade issues in particular. But economic issues generally. I think the other thing I would want to bring forward is a discussion about border issues. I think you could expect that Obama will have a somewhat different approach to the national security issues and be willing to talk about more flexibility on border issues and be willing to address some of the problems that we face on the on the border issues. Particularly movement across the border and problems that arise there. They're mutual, they're reciprocal. I think he'll be interested in hearing about that and Canada should be prepared to both offer to take some initiatives in that regard but expecting some things from the United States.

Jeffrey Simpson: Is there any indication that you have seen that Barack Obama actually knows very much about Canada?

Doug McArthur: I would say that the fact that he's from Chicago means that he's likely just by location to have some knowledge and understanding of Canada. Of course we do know that apparently there was some talk about NAFTA in his campaign. We haven't heard anything too much about it lately but there was discussion about NAFTA and it appears that Canada was a central focus of that discussion. But I would think he's an educated man, he's a cosmopolitan sort of person. I suspect that he knows more about Canada than maybe a lot of Canadians expect.

Jeffrey Simpson: I'm not sure, the Democratic platform that I read from start to finish didn't have the word Canada in it. But anyway, Jodie or John do you have a view on that? Or does it matter?

Jodie White: Well I think the signal that he's coming here first he has accepted advice from the State Department and whoever else gave it to him that it has been a tradition and it's a good way to get started. And perhaps an easy way frankly to be not unfair to ourselves, so and I think more than anything he's a listener. So if he didn't know a lot about Canada before I think you can see that he's listening and soaking things up. I don't know whether he's ever been to Canada or not. I don't know if that's ever been published.

Jeffrey Simpson: Just before George Bush left the White House they published a National Security document concerning the Arctic in which they reasserted very, they the Americans, very forcefully a number of traditional American claims in the Arctic. Is this a matter, the Arctic, that at that first meeting one should broach with the new President?

John Manley: Oh, I think you want to be very well briefed and well prepared for a discussion like that. I mean Brian Mulroney used to go in to see President Reagan with charts and maps and diagrams and lay them out on a table and walk him through it in order to get him around to his point of view. Which, to the consternation of American officials, he was usually pretty good at doing. I think for a first meeting, I would work on building the relationship on positive things. This is a long term issue. And it's one on which I think we have to as Canadians we have to really come to terms with as well. If we want to stake a claim to the Arctic we'd better be prepared to put our money where our mouths are.

Doug McArthur: I think, I mean, if you're expecting there to be a general survey of issues at this meeting, which I tend to agree with John, I doubt if there is going to be a general survey of all the issues. But if there were, this would be in the top, you know, six or seven. I think that's certainly the case although I suspect it'd be more likely the U.S. would want to raise this if anyone wanted to raise it. And I don't know whether Obama would be prepared to raise it now. I mean Canada has a kind of peculiar position on .... the real question here is ... is shipping and what the status of the Northwest Passage is going to be. And Canada of course argues that this is part of Canadian waters. The U.S. considers that there should be an international waterway here. And the U.S. has a pretty strong argument in this. So Canada I think's going to have to sort out its arguments. I expect they're going to see the U.S. putting forward pretty clear arguments on this, whether it'll be in the first meeting or not is I think an open question.

Jeffrey Simpson: John Manley mentioned as his second priority for discussion - energy and climate change. The Harper government has indicated that it has a number of ideas it wants to present to the new administration in the form of an energy and climate change package. We don't have any details yet. Now, one of the things that Canadian Ministers have been saying is that we can offer Americans energy security. I'm a bit cynical about that. Please disabuse me of my cynicism since we already offer them energy security and where else are we going to ship the energy, so aren't we offering them something that they already have?

John Manley: I think that's how they see it. I mean truthfully we sell our energy into world markets and from that perspective, yeah I mean you could raise the question of where do the pipelines go? I mean if you take natural gas to the coast to a liquification facility, well then that's different from shipping it down the main line to Chicago, for sure. But truthfully, if we want to exploit those resources it makes a lot more sense to be intending to sell them to the U.S. than elsewhere. So I, you know, I'm not sure it's a huge bargaining chip. In addition, I think we are totally underestimating, or at least I think the government's totally underestimating the importance of climate change and the difference in policy that's going to emerge in the United States. I just don't think it's enough for us to say: Well, look, we've got the oil sands and you're going to need it because you're going to need energy security. I think this administration is going to initiate, as I say, a sea change in climate change attitudes. And to use the language that emerged from the U.S. campaign, you can't put lipstick on a pig. And our government first wasn't even a believer that climate change was an issue. Secondly, has shown no signs of being particularly creative in the response to it. And I think they've got to get on the ice on this issue in a serious way.

Jeffrey Simpson: Jodi White?

Jodi White: Yeah, I don't think it's leverage really. I think you've got to present it as we're looking at it in terms of North America. And a lot of the conversations these days are looking at everything in those terms, including the discussion on the border and security perimeters and things. I agree with your premise that, you know, we don't have much leverage with that card. But still the fact is there that we are a huge supplier. But I also agree with John Manley about the environmental issue coming along and this is again where I really think you know you can ask the question: Are we a policy maker or a policy taker? And I fear that we are sitting back being a policy taker at a time when we don't have to be. And we could be out there with some ideas. I mean they need ideas too. And he was reaching out in terms of alternative energy and there's no reason we aren't into the alternative energy business as well with all of the resources that we have. I just wonder why the government hasn't done more in that way. And you know, when you look at even things like the economic crisis and the banking regulations. I mean we have a very good record to show in terms of the difference of what happened in Canada compared to what happened in the United States in terms of our regulatory regime in many ways.  It's not only that but that is part of it and I just think we should realize that a number of times we have been ahead of the ball policy and we just don't seem to be in this area now.

Jeffrey Simpson:  Doug McArthur - do we have any leverage with the Americans in terms of offering them further energy security?

Doug McArthur: I don't think that it's really the case that we can offer greater energy security in general in that we have NAFTA of course which pretty much guarantees access to our energy supplies. I mean it may be interesting to raise this issue and discuss it from a Canadian point of view as a kind of way of reminding them in the U.S. that we have NAFTA and that particularly if Obama is considering it and we haven't heard anything lately, but if he is considering alterations to NAFTA or perhaps not fully following the terms of NAFTA, it might be worthwhile reminding the U.S. that as a way of bringing NAFTA into the discussion, that NAFTA is there providing them with energy security. And so if they want to fool around with NAFTA they have to think about whether or not they could continue to have the energy security they have. Now, of course the additional thing is gas from the north. There is a supply question here and whether or not Canada's going to proceed as quickly or more slowly with respect to bringing those supplies onto line, that may be of interest to the United States. Although I think the United States knows that this is pretty much driven by Canadian domestic politics and concerns, economic concerns, as much as it is by serving any U.S. needs. So I think that energy security is a card alright and it's worth talking about but I don't think this government would be very credible in suggesting that they would move off the terms of NAFTA in any event. But they may want to raise it. On global warming, you know I'm not a fan of this government's policies but I think in Jodi's terms it might be a good time to be a policy follower at least to look and see and wait what the U.S. is going to do. How far they're going to go. I don't think we have the credentials or the capacity to be a major policy leader in this regard in any event. So maybe even though it's disappointing that we don't have a better climate change policy, maybe it's a good time to be waiting to see what the U.S. is going to do.

End of Part 1 of 2

Part  2 of 2

Jeffrey Simpson: Would any of you agree with what I have written in the papers? Most of you don't but on this I'll give it a try. That in effect we have no internal coherence on climate change and we're waiting for the Americans to impose upon us a coherence that we can't find ourselves?

John Manley: Well, I think this, if I might just say from a provincial point of view, is of course one of the problems or challenge or opportunities, you can see it as good or bad in Canada, is that we have very strong provincial governments. This may be something that may be helpful for the Canadians to try to help educate Mr. Obama about, and that is that in Canada provinces play such a leading role with respect to these kinds of issues and that there is going to have to be a sense in which the Canadians fit into a larger international system and that North American leadership may be helpful in organizing responses from Canada. And that's not necessarily a negative factor. It's just a reality of Canada.

Jodi White: Oh, I think it's a reality in the United States too though because the States I believe ... I mean in both countries the sub-national government if you want to call them that, have led on environmental issues in terms of I mean you look at California but there's a lot of other States out there too. And so I think they have the same reality. But I think that that doesn't move away from the need for some coherence of a national policy which is what you were talking about Jeff.

Jeffrey Simpson: We learn from public opinion surveys and they're only snapshots, that Barack Obama is a good deal more popular in this country at the moment, than Stephen Harper. Does that have an impact on our relations with the United States and our ability to deal with them?

John Manley:  First of all, I wouldn't worry about it if I was Stephen Harper unless Mr. Obama proposes to run against him. So that's not in the cards. But you know, one of the challenges for Canadian governments has always been what I call the two rules of Canadian politics. The first being - you must not get too close to the Unite States. And the second being - you must not get too far from the United States because of the importance that the relationship has. This gives a little leeway on the first of those rules and makes it somewhat easier I think for our government to pursue relationships that, you know, if it were still George W. Bush, Canadians would be less comfortable.

Doug McArthur: If I might just comment. I think that it will be a factor in making Harper feel a little bit more tentative. I mean I think one of the things that goes along with this factor, Obama has such a high popularity rating - he is of course a unique kind of politician who really lets people not only in the United States, or provides an opportunity for people not in the United States, from all kinds of backgrounds but also from Canada, to project their hopes and aspirations through. But I think that one of the things it will cause Harper to be a little bit uncomfortable with this is that it points to a difference in Canadian's attitudes to the policy positioning. I mean there's no question that Obama is popular at the same as projecting a relatively progressive I think in what probably would be the terms of the Bush and Harper people - a liberal view of things. This is not where Harper is comfortable. This is not where he wants to work. And the fact that Canadians have such a positive view of what Obama is not only projecting but saying, can't help but provide Mr. Harper with a bit of discomfort.

Jeffrey Simpson: Do you agree with that Jodie White? That the Opposition parties, the newspapers and others in this country will now throw in the face of Mr. Harper and Mr. Flaherty what's going on in the United States as a yardstick by which they should be judged?

Jodi White: Well there certainly may be some of that. But you know, with this economic crisis, everybody's moving from where they were. I think if you'd asked Stephen Harper before he became Prime Minister about the Canada\U.S. relationship he would have been thinking in terms of building a relationship with George Bush. Which, as we all noticed after about their first meeting, he really didn't bother trying to pursue any further. And I think he knew how Canadians felt about the President etc. And now I don't think he would ... it would have been his first choice to build a relationship with what one might call a progressive democrat. But he's going to and he needs to. But you know, also I mean we're about to launch into a budget which is not the kind of budget Stephen Harper actually ever thought he was going to bring in. So everything is changing, the ground is changing underneath him. And he's pretty I guess stubborn about his own views. So I don't think he'll feel pressed when he believes he's right on a number of these issues. But you know, some of the lens will start to be the lens coming out of Washington. But again, I think there's many people who believe that Obama is going to have to move a little more to the centre from the left of where he's been because you know, you can run for your nomination etc., in that way but once you start governing you start to move towards the centre. So I think we'll see but the lens may be there. There's no doubt about it.

Jeffrey Simpson: John?

John Manley: Yeah, I think I agree with Jodi on that. You know I think going forward you know we have to remember all the basic rules. The President is important. No doubt about it, the relationship between the Prime Minister and the President is important. However, usually on the bilateral level the things that cause us problems originate not with the President, not with the administration but with Congress. And the United States has elected a Democratic controlled Senate and House of Representatives. They tend to be more protectionist, that there are a lot of new people, many of them inexperienced. And you know, I think we have a lot less to worry about from President Obama's inexperience with Canada than we do from with congressmen and senators who have either little experience of Canada or quite frankly couldn't care less about Canada.

Jeffrey Simpson: John, also Cabinet Secretaries with their big departmental responsibilities from homeland security to commerce to agriculture and so on. As you look at the Cabinet, the team of advisers and Secretaries of the Cabinet that he's put together - is there in your mind source for confidence on bilateral relations? Or some elements of concern?

John Manley: Well, I'm encouraged to start off with, with two things. First of all the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, knows Canada well. She wasn't necessarily a friend of ours as a senator from New York. But did in her address to the Senate in her confirmation hearings, acknowledge the necessity of working with Canada as well as Mexico. I think that's a good sign. And also she knows Canada well and she has, you know, within her circle many people who are very much friends of Canada. Secondly, the Secretary for Homeland Security which maybe is the most important job for Canadians to worry about, is by all accounts a very practically oriented Governor.

Jeffrey Simpson: Janet Napolitano of Arizona, excuse me.

John Manley: That's right, not a border State as we had with Tom Ridge from Pennsylvania. But also not a law enforcement officer as we've had with Michael Chertoff, and quite frankly I think many of the difficulties on a bilateral issue level between Canada and the United States for the last few years have emanated from the Secretary of Homeland Securities office where he'd, you know he just has not been able to find a balance between security and the economy. Something that was instinctive for Tom Ridge and which I hope will be instinctive for the new Secretary.

Jeffrey Simpson: I should just add that Ms. Napolitano has helpfully already said that she understands the difference between the Mexican and Canadian borders of the United States. Which, coming from Arizona is an encouraging thing to say. If I may just also add I saw her speak a year ago in Ottawa, she was here leading a trade mission. So she's been in Canada several times. She's extremely articulate. Very pragmatic and very bright. Jodi?

Jodi White: No, I had noticed also her reference to the fact that these borders are not similar borders. There are marked differences and that's good news for us.

John Manley: I think we have to be careful and not underestimate these people. I mean I don't think it's so much a question of whether they're friends of Canada or they're not friends of Canada. This is a very talented Cabinet and head of agencies. There are people who have been working in politics but in government and in their fields for a very, very long time. They have a tremendous amount of expertise. I think we underestimate these people if we think that they don't and won't have briefings that give them lots of information, lots of understanding of Canada. I think it's going to be much more a question of what kind of issues come down on this government, the new U.S. government. What kind of pressures come on them around issues that might affect Canada. And how they'll position themselves on those things. But those will be influenced by domestic politics. Those will be influenced by policy considerations. Friend of Canada or not. There's cases where they'll face Canada and deal with Canada but they have ... these people are knowledgeable people.

Jeffrey Simpson:  Let me end our discussion by asking this question and it picks up Jodi White's second briefing point. She said: We need to talk to the President about our views on other things than bilateral issues. And I think (brackets) Afghanistan. Fine to say in theory but in practice do we have anything to say to the new administration that's going to be very preoccupied with international and world issues on such matters as Iran, Jihadi terrorism, how to deal with China, foreign aid, Cuba, nuclear proliferation, Pakistan. Do we have anything to say and would it be worthwhile trying to say anything to the new administration about these issues?

Doug McArthur: If I might say something? I think we've certainly earned and will be understood to have something to say about Afghanistan. I think what we're going to say ...

Jeffrey Simpson: Correct. What about the rest?

Doug McArthur: Well, on Afghanistan I think we have to be very careful to re-emphasize that our mission, our military missions ends there in 2011 and that we are committed to aid and development in Afghanistan and participating on that side of things and make that clear so that doesn't stay as an outstanding kind of question. On other questions I think Canada can speak about the importance of something that Obama speaks about and that is international co-operation and multi-lateralism towards international problems. I think that Canada can also be a fairly forceful proponent of peacekeeping and peace making missions given its experience and I think Obama might very well listen to Canada about ... about both the positive side of those things and where he might deploy them.

Jeffrey Simpson: Jodi? You raised the point.

Jodi White: Yeah, well I'm concerned about it probably that's why I raised it and I do think the government should be doing a lot of work on this. I mean we do have a lot of fine people on foreign policy issues in Ottawa who can provide assistance and things. But some of the signals have not been great in terms of for instance what the government did in its early ... in its first mandate on China was confusing and was not ... so I mean it is going to be ... we cannot only have a relationship with the United States that is a sort (unclear) because we're the smaller guy constantly there with our issues. If we can't broaden it to show that we are also citizens of the world and have views and perhaps you know, angles or relationships that they don't have, I think we will fail ourselves probably. And it's going to be a bit of a challenge. The government, I mean we have an awful lot of international aid and development around the world. We've got relationships through organizations like the Commonwealth that they don't have. And it's a matter of looking for those kinds of things where we think we can bring something to be table. You want to build a relationship where Harper and Obama may be on the phone from time to time and they won't be talking about Canada\U.S. at all, they'll be talking about something else. That's what you want in your relationship so that it's not always Canada\U.S.

Jeffrey Simpson: John Manley, last word to you.

John Manley: I think Jodi has summed it up quite well and I think on that list of issues, yeah, there are often things that we can offer that are different. We, you know, I think we should value our independence and the special role that we can play in the world. We should not underestimate it, nor should we overstate it. But whether it's relations with Pakistan who after all, which after all is a member of the Commonwealth and with which we have a different set of relationships than does the United States. Or whether it's the fact that we can go to Iran with a somewhat different approach than the Americans or a host of other issues. We can add value and when we add value to the relationship on things that are not bilateral we build credits that we can use on bilateral issues and we shouldn't underestimate its importance.

Jeffrey Simpson: John Manley, Jodi White, Doug McArthur - thank you very much. This ends our podcast. Thank you very much for listening and reading. This is Jeffrey Simpson ...

John Manley: Not bad for a supply teacher Mr. Simpson.

Jeffrey Simpson: Thank you John. See you later.


Those who follow my ramblings on Army.ca will not be surprised to inow that I am, broadly, in accord with John Manley:

• The economy is the big issue and it is important for Prime Minister Harper to remind President Obama that we are partners in NAFTA, not opponents;

• The nature of the (highly decentralized ≈ strong provinces) Canadian federation means that we will, as we likely must be, ‘united’ by American actions. There is no point in debating major environmental policies and climate change issues until Pres. Obama tells us where the whole continent is headed;

• The Arctic issue needs to be discussed by experts – which leaves Harper and Obama out of the loop. Obama needs to know that have differences with the USA on matters of our sovereignty and that we expect nothing less and will accept nothing less than good faith negotiations, amongst friends and allies, with the USA;

• Afghanistan may be something Obama ‘needs’ from us. If he asks we should promise to consider it carefully – no quid pro qou demanded or offered. Good will is the desired outcome; and

• We have no petroleum leverage unless and until we build a pipeline to and a major LNG plant in a deep water port on the Pacific coast.

Lorrie Goldstein does a hilarious sendup of the Canadian MSM. The coverage of the real event will probably be uncritical fawning and softball questions, leaving Canadians as much in the dark as they are now:


How to see Barack as Stephen

Last Updated: 22nd January 2009, 6:59am

Here's how Barack Obama's inauguration as U.S. president should have been reported by gushing Canadian media pundits, had they applied the same "standards" to him as they do to Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, an ideological neo-conservative irresponsibly poised to introduce broad-based, middle-class tax cuts, despite a huge and growing U.S. deficit and global recession.

Obama's fiscally reckless promises of $275 billion in tax cuts this year, and $2.9 trillion over the next decade, will condemn the U.S. to years of structural deficits, for which future generations will have to pay, say leading economists.

Boasting on the official White House website that his massive tax giveaway will result in a $3,700 tax cut for a married couple earning $75,000 with two children, one in college, Obama ignored the devastating impact such policies, designed mainly for short-term political gain, will have on future generations and on government programs Americans hold dear, such as social security.

Sadly, thoughtful observers aren't surprised by this latest move by Obama, whom some have already dubbed "George Bush Lite."

This, given Obama's support for everything from escalating Bush's disastrous "war on terrorism" in Afghanistan, to his support for capital punishment, to his insistence so-called "clean coal" technology can be part of America's solution to combating global warming.


Indeed, "clean coal" is a major element in Obama's suspect promise to significantly reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, a plan that at best, according to leading environmentalists, will continue to fall far short of the Kyoto Accord, thus shaming America before the global community.

Then again, what else can be expected of a former state senator from coal-rich Illinois, who once voted in favour of a bill condemning Kyoto and prohibiting the state from regulating greenhouse gases, at the urging of that state's powerful coal lobby?

Meanwhile, Obama's knee-jerk support for Israel in its latest confrontation with Hamas, lacked the nuance required of a statesman seeking the role of honest broker in the Mideast.

Instead, Obama delivered a harsh, uncompromising message to the Arab and Muslim worlds last week, through his secretary of state designate, Hillary Clinton.

Making it clear she was also speaking for Obama, Clinton pointedly told her Senate confirmation hearing: "We cannot negotiate with Hamas until it renounces violence, recognizes Israel and agrees to abide by past agreements ... The president-elect and I understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel's desire to defend itself under the current conditions and to be free of shelling by Hamas rockets."

Where, one must ask, was a similar expression of concern for Palestinian lives, raising fears Obama may be pandering for support from the well-organized, influential and well-financed pro-Israel lobby in the U.S.?


All this, plus Obama's hurtful remarks during his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois that while he supported civil unions for homosexuals, he could not endorse same-sex marriages because, "I'm a Christian," have raised fears progressive forces in the U.S. will find themselves under assault for the next four years of Obama's administration.

Indeed, while Obama has publicly toned down and even modified some of his more controversial views over the years, many worry this may all be part of his "hidden agenda" to impose his values on Americans over the long term.
Here is a website that is keeping track of the 510 promises that have been made by the new President.
They say that Mr Obama made more promises than Clinton & Bush combined.... Guess he has something like 4 years to keep em.

If Obama ran in Canada, which party would he run with?  Which would accept him based on his policies?

I'm sure PM Harper will want to put President Obama's mind to rest about this:

The Great White Threat to the upperbelly

Prime Minister Harper should also have some sharp words for President Obama about this:


U.S. stimulus plan's 'protectionist' clause concerns Harper
Andrew Mayeda and Sheldon Alberts, Canwest News Service 
Published: Thursday, January 29, 2009

Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed serious concern Thursday over a provision of the U.S. stimulus bill that would require infrastructure projects to use American steel, putting Canada on the edge of its first trade dispute with the United States since Barack Obama was inaugurated.

The "Buy American" clause would ban the use of most foreign iron and steel from infrastructure projects funded under the US$819-billion stimulus bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Thursday, Mr. Harper added Canada's name to the growing list of U.S. trade partners, from the European Union to Australia, who are seeking to overturn the provision.

"This is obviously a serious matter and a serious concern to us," Mr. Harper told the House of Commons, adding that he had spoken about the matter with Canada's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Wilson.

"I know that countries around the world are expressing grave concern about some of these measures, that go against not just the obligations of the United States, but frankly, the spirit of our G20 discussions," the prime minister added.

"We will be having these discussions with our friends in the United States, and we expect the United States to respect its international obligations."

Mr. Harper's comments came a day after he confirmed that the U.S. president will visit Canada on Feb. 19. The Prime Minister is now expected to raise the Buy American provision during their first meeting.

But given the rush in Washington to pass the stimulus bill -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would like Congress to pass the bill early next month -- Canadian diplomats have already begun a concerted lobbying effort to convince U.S. politicians to change their minds.

Trade Minister Stockwell Day, on his way to Davos, Switzerland, today for the World Economic Forum, said he would raise the matter with senior U.S. trade officials, as well as Pascal Lamy, head of the World Trade Organization.

Mr. Day said the clause appeared to violate the free-trade principles of the WTO, of which the United States is a member, as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement. But he said it is too early to say if Canada will launch any formal complaint.

"We respect every country's autonomy when it comes to passing legislation," Mr. Day said in an interview. "At this time we're using all the diplomatic channels that are available."

Mr. Obama's successful campaign for president included repeated vows to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement and make changes that would protect American jobs.

The steel provision is reminiscent of the Buy American Act passed by Congress amid the depths of the Great Depression. Passed in 1933, it required the U.S. government to favour made-in-America products when making purchases.

Mr. Day warned the U.S. against falling back on trade barriers as a means of protecting itself against the recession.

"History shows clearly that you can't fall back into protectionist measures. That happened in the 1930s and what could have been a bad one or two-year recession turned into, as we know, the Great Depression."

The stimulus package has also triggered a wave of anxiety among Canadian and U.S. companies that do extensive cross-border business.

"We've very concerned," said Scotty Greenwood, executive director of the Canadian-American Business Council, which lobbies on behalf of companies with interests in both countries.

The economic stimulus bill passed by the House of Representatives is "not well thought out" because it does not recognize how integrated the Canadian and U.S. economies have become.

"It's a big mistake with Canada because it doesn't fundamentally recognize the way we do business," Ms. Greenwood said.

The provisions banning foreign steel and iron from being used in any infrastructure project could deal a serious blow to the $13 billion Canadian steel industry, which exports about 40% of its product to the U.S.

But of potentially more concern is the Senate version of the bill --which is still being debated and currently includes language to require only American-made equipment and goods be used on projects created by the stimulus.

"U.S. policy-makers need to be better educated," said Ms. Greenwood, whose group is now focusing its efforts on getting the Senate to amend its legislation. "For the purposes of the domestic market in the U.S., it's useful for Canada to be considered domestic."

The Senate is expected to vote next week on its version of the stimulus bill. At that point, the Senate and House would meet in "conference" negotiations to reconcile the two pieces of legislation, which could be Canada's last chance to have the bill altered.

Mr. Obama technically has the authority to veto the bill, but is under intense pressure to get his recovery package through Congress as soon as possible.

Of course we can always suggest if they don't want our exports we don't have to export oil either.........

Thucydides said:
Of course we can always suggest if they don't want our exports we don't have to export oil either.........

Don,t foget all that HYDRO power that gets exported from out east.....
For anyone wandering into this thread, and thinking that the US gets its oil from the middle east, the number one importer of oil to the US is Canada.
Midnight Rambler said:
For anyone wandering into this thread, and thinking that the US gets its oil from the middle east, the number one importer of oil to the US is Canada.

The other thing to realize is that turning off the tap is not an empty threat. There's still plenty of opportunity to sell our oil elsewhere. There's no "Wal*Mart effect" at work.
ModlrMike said:
The other thing to realize is that turning off the tap is not an empty threat. There's still plenty of opportunity to sell our oil elsewhere. There's no "Wal*Mart effect" at work.

Absolutely.... cause, while Western Canada sells off it's oil to the States, Eastern / Central Canada is bringin in the stuff from overseas... the pipelines are alerady there - just a case of opening up the valve.

Obama, Canada's Harper will have plenty to talk about
The president ventures north for his first foreign trip in office.
By Andrew Malcolm
February 1, 2009
President Obama went all over the Mideast and Europe last summer and spoke with 200,000 close friends in Berlin but had no time to visit the Americas.

Of course, how much good did it do Sen. John McCain to visit Canada, Mexico and Colombia?

Anyway, Obama will make his first foreign trip as president on Feb. 19 to Canada. He'd better take his inaugural overcoat.

The 44th president will probably save Vancouver for next year's Winter Olympics. Which means he'll most likely travel to Toronto, where the stadium has a roof, thankfully. Or he'll go up to Ottawa, the world's second-coldest capital, where citizens skate through downtown on the frozen Rideau Canal waiting for a hockey game to break out.

Wherever he goes, Obama will meet with Stephen Harper, Canada's president.

Relax! Harper's not really the president of the Great White North. He's prime minister. For now anyway.

But in the summer of 2007, candidate Obama told a labor (labour for Canadian readers) rally in Chicago that one of the first things he'd do in the White House is tell "the president of Canada" that he wants to renegotiate parts of the allegedly job-gobbling North American Free Trade Agreement.

Since he knows better now and has already won Ohio and Pennsylvania, that Obama promise may be, in a Nixonian kind of phrasing, no longer operative. But Harper, whose country is the U.S.' largest energy provider, and Obama will have plenty to talk about anyway. Both are political pragmatists. By Canadian standards, Harper is a conservative, which on the U.S. political spectrum would make him about as conservative as, say, Ted Kennedy.

Their two countries have by far the biggest bilateral economic relationship in the world, with about $1.6 billion in trade flowing back and forth each day. That's more than $1.1 million per minute, even better than Obama's fundraising.

And, as it happens, both countries' economies are in recession right now.

Don't tell Daily Kos, but Obama, like President Bush in Iraq, favors (favours) a U.S. troop surge of perhaps 30,000 into Afghanistan, which may take a little selling. A recent BBC America/Harris Poll shows barely one-third of Americans support such an order. Goodbye, honeymoon.

Also like Bush, Obama would like more NATO combat troops in Afghanistan, where Canadians have loyally fought since Day 1 of the ongoing but unsteady Taliban-overthrowing. But their costly casualty involvement is an increasingly emotional issue at home. Harper has vowed his country's military involvement there ends in 2011, period.

As president-elect, Obama met in Washington with Mexico's President Felipe Calderon to reassure that amigo.

Relations between Canada and what Canadians call "the States" have improved considerably since the War of 1812, when British troops assaulted Washington and torched a now-famous white house where Obama currently resides.

Americans easily forget, however, that that little bit of neighborly (neighbourly) arson was in retaliation for American soldiers sacking the city of York, now Canada's economic capital and named Toronto.

I think a few of you were just discussing this line last week:
Both are political pragmatists. By Canadian standards, Harper is a conservative, which on the U.S. political spectrum would make him about as conservative as, say, Ted Kennedy.
Does the fact that the LA Times thinks that we have a President loose credibility for their publication?
They let on that it's a joke in the next line, apparently Obama said it first during the campaign according to the article.

Relax! Harper's not really the president of the Great White North. He's prime minister. For now anyway.

But in the summer of 2007, candidate Obama told a labor (labour for Canadian readers) rally in Chicago that one of the first things he'd do in the White House is tell "the president of Canada" that he wants to renegotiate parts of the allegedly job-gobbling North American Free Trade Agreement.
The little history lesson in the final paragraph is interesting. 

They must do have a large Canadian audience, so they have to be "Bilingual"; providing Canadian translations.   ;D