AND NEWS PRIOR TO OBAMA'S VISIT - FEBRUARY 17/18, 2009
inside and outside Parliament Hill 48 Hours before President Obama
arrives in Canada.
18, 2009 Preparations
continue both inside and outside of Parliament for President Obama's
first foreign trip as President in Canada.
Canadian and American flags are alternately placed down the Hall of
Honour in Parliament Hill on February 18, 2009 (top).
Barricades and locks surround Parliament Hill but Canadians with a
message post banners on lamp posts and bridges (center).
Cleaners wash the bullet proof glass installed in select Parliament Hill
windows for Obama's Canadian visit (bottom).
17, 2009 Security
preparations continue on Parliament Hill in Ottawa 48 hours before
President Barack Obama's visit to Canada.
RCMP and US Secret Service prepare to secure the Parliament grounds,
including the installation of concealment tarps,
bullet proof glass, and street and pedestrian barriers.
the YouTube of President
Obama interview by CBC's Peter Mansbridge on February 17, 2009.
MANSBRIDGE: Mr. President, thank you for doing this — Canadians are
very excited about your trip.
OBAMA: Thank you.
MANSBRIDGE: When they watch you today sign your recovery bill into law,
how concerned should they be that the
"Buy America" clause is still there, even though you've given
assurances international trade agreements will be
respected — how concerned should they be?
OBAMA: I don't think they should be too concerned. You know, I think
that if you look at history, one of the most
important things during a worldwide recession of the sort that we're
seeing now is that each country does not resort to
"beggar thy neighbor" policies, protectionist policies. They
can end up further contracting world trade.
And my administration is committed to making sure that even as we take
steps to strengthen the U.S. economy, that we
are doing so in a way that actually over time will enhance the ability
of trading partners, like Canada, to work within
my expectation is, is that where you have strong U.S. competitors who
can sell products and services, that a lot of
governors and mayors are going to want to try to find U.S. equipment or
services, but that we are going to abide by our
World Trade Organization and NAFTA obligations just as we always have.
MANSBRIDGE: You mentioned NAFTA. A year ago you were pretty critical of
NAFTA. In fact, you even suggested at one
point that the U.S. opt out if it couldn't renegotiate. Do you think
that's the time now to be making that case, or is it
something that's set aside now?
OBAMA: I think there are a lot of sensitivities right now because of the
huge decline in world trade. As I've said before,
NAFTA, the basic framework of the agreement, has environmental and
labour protections as side agreements. My argument
has always been that we might as well incorporate them into the full
agreement so that they're fully enforceable.
But what I've also said is that Canada is one of our most important
trading partners, we rely on them heavily, there's
$1.5 billion worth of trade going back and forth every day between the
two countries and that it is not in anybody's interest
to see that trade diminish.
MANSBRIDGE: Especially now?
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely.
MANSBRIDGE: Part of that trade involves the energy sector. A lot of oil
and gas comes to the United States from Canada,
and even more in the future with oilsands development. Now there are
some in your Canada — and Canada, as well
— who feel the oilsands is dirty oil because of the extraction
process. What do you think? Is it dirty oil?
What we know is that oilsands creates a big carbon footprint. So the
dilemma that Canada faces, the United
States faces and China and the entire world faces, is how do we obtain
the energy that we need to grow our economies
in a way that is not rapidly accelerating climate change? That's one of
the reasons why the stimulus bill that I'll be
signing today contains billions of dollars towards clean energy
I think to the extent that Canada and the United States can collaborate
on ways that we can sequester carbon, capture
greenhouse gases before they're emitted into the atmosphere, that's
going to be good for everybody. Because if we
don't, then we're going to have a ceiling at some point in terms of our
ability to expand our economies and maintain the
standard of living that's so important, particularly when you've got
countries like China and India that are obviously
interested in catching up.
MANSBRIDGE: So are you drawing a link, then, in terms of the future of
tarsands oil coming into the U.S. contingent on
a sense of a continental environment policy on cap and trade?
OBAMA: Well, I think what I'm suggesting is, is that no country in
isolation is going to be able to solve this problem. So
Canada, the United States, China, India, the European Union, all of us
are going to have to work together in an effective
way to figure out how do we balance the imperatives of economic growth
with very real concerns about the effect we're
having on our planet. And ultimately, I think this can be solved by
I think that it is possible for us to create a set of clean energy
mechanisms that allow us to use things not just like oilsands,
but also coal. The United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal, but we
have our own homegrown problems in terms of dealing
with a cheap energy source that creates a big carbon footprint.
And so, we're not going to be able to deal with any of these issues in
isolation. The more that we can develop technologies
that tap alternative sources of energy but also contain the
environmental damage of fossil fuels, the better off we're
going to be.
MANSBRIDGE: I know you're looking at it as a global situation, in terms
of global partners, but there are some who do
argue that this is the time, if there was ever going to be a continental
energy policy and a continental environmental policy,
this would be it. Would you agree with that thinking?
OBAMA: Well, you know, I think one of the, one of the promising areas
for not just for bilateral but also trilateral
co-operation is around this issue. I met with President Calderon here in
the United States, and Mexico actually has
taken some of the boldest steps around the issues of alternative energy
and carbon reductions of any country out there.
And it's very rare for a country that's still involved in developing and
trying to raise its standard of living to stay as focused
on this issue as President Calderon's administration has.
I think that offers is the possibility of a template that we can create
between Canada, the United States and Mexico
that is moving forcefully around these issues. But as I said, it's going
to be important for us to make sure that countries
like China and India, with enormous populations and huge energy needs,
that they are brought into this process, as well.
MANSBRIDGE: Afghanistan. As you know, Canada has been there from the
beginning, since the fall of 2001, and has
suffered extreme casualties in its combat missions there. And the
Canadian Parliament has decided, out of combat by
the year 2011. When you get to Ottawa, will you have any suggestions to
Canada that it should reconsider what its
role in Afghanistan is?
OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think the Canadian contribution has been
extraordinary, and for all the families who have borne
the burden in Canada, I think we all have a heartfelt thanks.
I'm in the process of a strategic review of our approach in Afghanistan.
Very soon we will be releasing some initial plans
in terms of how we are going to approach the military side of the
equation in Afghanistan.
But I am absolutely convinced that you cannot solve the problem of
Afghanistan, the Taliban, the spread of extremism in
that region solely through military means. We're going to have to use
diplomacy, we're going to have to use development,
and my hope is that in conversations that I have with Prime Minister
Harper, that he and I end up seeing the importance
of a comprehensive strategy, and one that ultimately the people of
Canada can support, as well as the people of the United
States can support. Because obviously, here as well, there are a lot of
concerns about a conflict that has lasted quite a long
time now and actually appears to be deteriorating at this point.
MANSBRIDGE: But are you saying that you will or you won't ask Canada to
remain in a combat role?
OBAMA: Well, I think, you know, we've got until 2011, according to the
Canadian legislature, and I think it's important
for the Canadian legislature and the people of Canada to get a sense
that what they're doing is productive. So what I
will be communicating is the approach that we intend to take. Obviously
I'm going to be continuing to ask other countries
to help think through how do we approach this very difficult problem.
But I don't have a specific "ask" in my pocket that
I intend to bring out in our meetings.
MANSBRIDGE: Is Afghanistan still winnable?
OBAMA: Well, I think Afghanistan is still winnable, in the sense of our
ability to ensure that it is not a launching pad for
attacks against North America. I think it's still possible for us to
stamp out al-Qaeda to make sure that extremism is not
expanding but rather is contracting. I think all those goals are still
possible, but I think that as a consequence to the war
on Iraq, we took our eye off the ball. We have not been as focused as we
need to be on all the various steps that are
needed in order to deal with Afghanistan.
If you've got narco-trafficking that is funding the Taliban, if there is
a perception that there's no rule of law in Afghanistan, if
we don't solve the issue of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan,
then we're probably not going to solve the problem.
MANSBRIDGE: I'm down to my last minute. A couple of quickies on Canada,
your sense of the country. I mean, I think,
as you may know, you carry Canada on your belt. That BlackBerry is a
MANSBRIDGE: You've been to Canada once. What's your sense of the
OBAMA: Well, yes, I've been to Canada a couple of times. Most recently
it was to visit my brother-in-law's family, who was
from Burlington, right outside of Toronto.
Look, I think that Canada is one of the most impressive countries in the
world, the way it has managed a diverse population,
a migrant economy. You know, the natural beauty of Canada is
extraordinary. Obviously there is enormous kinship between
the United States and Canada, and the ties that bind our two countries
together are things that are very important to us.
And, you know, one of the things that I think has been striking about
Canada is that in the midst of this enormous economic
crisis, I think Canada has shown itself to be a pretty good manager of
the financial system in the economy in ways that we
haven't always been here in the United States. And I think that's
important for us to take note of, that it's possible for us
to have a vibrant banking sector, for example, without taking some of
the wild risks that have resulted in so much trouble
on Wall Street.
MANSBRIDGE: Appreciate this very much. You still haven't seen your first
OBAMA: I'm looking forward to making it happen at some point.
MANSBRIDGE: Mr. President, thank you very much.
OBAMA: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
and Quotes From American Presidents on Previous Canadian Trips
Click on archival
photos for a larger image.
From US Presidents Made During Previous Visits to Canada
both sides of the line, we are so accustomed to an undefended boundary
three thousand miles long
that we are inclined perhaps to minimize its vast importance, not only
to our own continuing relations but
also to the example which it sets to the other nations of the
world." Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Visit to Quebec, 1936
"Canadian-American relations for many years did not develop
spontaneously. The example of accord
provided by our two countries did not come about merely through the
happy circumstance of geography.
It is compounded of one part proximity and nine parts good will and
common sense." Harry S. Truman - Speech to Parliament, 1947
"It is still a fact that our common frontier grows stronger every
year, defended only by friendship." Dwight D. Eisenhower - Speech to Parliament, 1953
"Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends.
Economics has made us partners.
And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined
together, let no man put asunder." John F. Kennedy - Speech to Parliament, 1961
"We of the United States consider ourselves blessed. We have much
to give thanks for. But the gift of
providence we cherish most is that we were given as our neighbors on
this wonderful continent the
people and the nation of Canada." Lyndon B. Johnson - Speech at Expo '67, Montreal, 1967
"We're more than friends and neighbors and allies; we are kin, who
together have built the most productive
relationship between any two countries in the world today." Ronald Reagan - Speech in Quebec City, 1985
"Ours is the world's most remarkable relationship - the prime
minister said, whether we like it or not. I
can tell you that on most days I like it very, very much. We're neighbors
by the grace of nature. We are
allies and friends by choice." Bill Clinton - Speech to Parliament, 1995