The president of the United States is visiting Ottawa today in a return to a tradition of Canada being the first official foreign visit of a new American president. Several hundred Canadians assembled on Parliament Hill to welcome President Barack Obama and thousands of eyes are glued to TV screens from coast to coast.
The feelings of goodwill towards President Obama are palpable. Not since the late John Kennedy can I remember an American president being so popular on this side of the border. Even the NDP and Liberals have shut up about warning us how dangerous and immoral it is for us to get too close to the Yanks—a refreshing break from their normal anti-Americanism.
Apparently, Obama comes bearing a pro-trade message to assuage Canadian concerns over protectionism; a promise of a new strategy in Afghanistan; and talk of clean-energy cooperation as controversy in the United States hangs over Canada’s oil sands.
The president’s six-hour stopover will include a welcome by Governor General the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, a working lunch and a joint press conference with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as well as a meeting between the president and Michael Ignatieff.