President Obama's first big foreign trip was to Ottawa yesterday where he was welcomed by hordes of cheering Canadians, a snowstorm, freezing cold temperatures, a happy Harper and about ten thousand cops, security personnel, mounties and military snipers. I suppose that indicates he is fairly high value target.
The Canadian news reports of the visit were overwhelmingly positive and the trip seems to have been quite a success for both leaders. Stephen Harper actually looked happy, which is an emotion he surely hasn't felt for months. During the press conference Ana and I were trying to imagine how it would have been different with Stephane Dion up there and the image was not pretty - something along the lines of "the Messiah meets Forest Gump". Thank god that didn't happen.
There has not been such an outpouring of affection for a US president by Canadians since Kennedy so I see this as a potentially huge turning point in Canada-US relations. The anti-Americanism in Canada isn't just an embarrassment, it is an insult to our collective dignity. I think that Obama will give Canadians a reason to leave much of that crap behind and instead focus on the overwhelmingly positive aspects of our relationship with our neighbour to the south. One thing Harper said yesterday really struck a chord with me - he said that we often concentrate on the differences between our countries, and even when Canada "wins" a dispute with the US, we lose. That's some terrible paraphrasing on my part, but the idea is so true.
Thanks for visiting us, Mr. Obama! Here's to a productive US/Canada partnership as the collective economic shit hits the fan!