Thursday, February 19, 2009

Obama Says He Loves Canada

I watched the CBC Newsworld's coverage of the joint press conference between President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Obama began the press conference inauspiciously by saying it was "a great pleasure to be in Iowa, er, Ottawa."

However, the President had the Canadian press corps in the palm of his hand when he proclaimed, "I love this country." Indeed, he thanked Canadians who traveled here to campaign for him.

The feeling is mutual as Obama is more popular in Canada than he is down here (which will undoubtedly annoy my mother.) Although he did note he preferred to return when the whether warms up illicting much laughter. So the Canadian press slobbers over Obama just as much as the MSM down here.

Bus it turns out Obama's brother-in-law is from Canada. I must confess I did not know that. Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro married Konrad Ng of Burlington, Ontario in 2004. In August of that year, Obama visited his in laws traveling to Toronto, Mississauga and Niagara Falls. (

Prior to the press conference Obama and Harper met for about half an hour and discussed economic recovery, clean energy, border security and Afghanistan. Obama made a point of stating that Harper government was one he "could work with." Although Harper is a Tory he was no doubt happy to get the Obama seal of approval.

Prime Minister Harper was asked by a reporter if Obama had pressed him to extend Canada's military commitment in Afghanistan beyond 2011. Obama interjected that he had not done so and had only thanked Harper for Canada's efforts in Afghanistan. It is worth noting that shortly after Obama's election Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had formally asked his Canadian counterpart Peter MacKay to extend the mission. MacKay declined. It will be interesting to see if Obama leans on Harper if things do not improve in Afghanistan over the next two years.

Several thousand people were gathered outside Parliament Hill to catch a sighting of Obama both on his way and out. It was a small crowd by Obama's standards but a loud one.

Obama then made his way into Ottawa's Byward Market for an impromptu visit where he sampled a "beaver tail." As someone who lived in Ottawa for nearly a decade I can tell you a beaver tail is a fried doughnut usually flavored with cinnamon and is shaped like a beaver tail. But beaver tails can be thick and tough. My father chipped a tooth on one when he tried to bite into one when he visited Ottawa about a decade ago.

At this hour, Obama is meeting with Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff and Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae. Interestingly, NDP leader Jack Layton does not get to meet with his socialist comrade. This is probably as dissapointing to the NDP as not being able to bring down the Conservative government late last year and get those elusive cabinet posts.

Obama ends his trip to Canada by meeting with U.S. Embassy staff and their families before boarding Air Force One.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Fun that President Obama took the advice of thee Canadians who recommended that he grab a Beavertail during his time in Ottawa:

Welcome to Ottawa, President Obama!
What should President Obama do in Ottawa?
What should President Obama know about Canada?