Saturday, January 24, 2009

Harper chats with Obama, plans meeting as early as February

This is from the Star.

Since Canadians are more comfortable with Obama than Bush Harper sees this as an opportunity to link Canada more closely with the United States that is to say advance our role as junior partners in US imperialism and as reliable suppliers of commodities and energy to our neighbour. No doubt Harper must be a little disappointed that the new president is not quite on the same Conservative wavelength as Harper and as he remarks he had a good relationship with Bush.
There is no mention as to whether Obama spoke about Khadr!

Harper chats with Obama, plans meeting as early as February
January 24, 2009 Bruce Campion-SmithOTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF
OTTAWA–The "unpopularity" of the Bush administration was a barrier to Canada-U.S. relations as Canadians were wary about Ottawa's dealings with Washington, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.
But Harper is predicting that this week's inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama marks a "fresh start" for relations between the two countries.
"I think that we now have a new administration that Canadians are clearly very comfortable with, at least out of the gate," Harper told the Star.
"While they have the same problems, the problems are not viewed as problems of their creation so it gives everybody a chance for a fresh start," he said.
Harper spoke with Obama yesterday to congratulate the new president on his inauguration and to "kick-start" planning by officials on both sides of the border for the first meeting of the two leaders, expected next month, perhaps the week of Feb. 23.
"We were talking preliminary ... about the agenda for that trip with a focus on the economy in particular, obviously the auto sector which we're already working together on," Harper said after the call.
He said his meeting with Obama is also likely to focus on environment, climate change and energy security, and that "we should be able to do some interesting things together on that."
The White House said Obama thanked Harper for the congratulations.
"He reiterated his appreciation for Canada's friendship and his commitment to travel to Canada as his first foreign visit as president. He discussed the shared challenges we face in Afghanistan, on climate change and in confronting the worsening global economy," the U.S. statement said.
Harper said Obama's presidency is a "real opportunity" to move forward. "I think everybody acknowledges that Canada-U.S. relations improved after our government came to office. But I actually think they probably could have improved more," he said.
He said the chance of even better relations was hindered by the focus of the administration of former president George W. Bush on domestic U.S. problems.
"But also some reticence on the part of Canadians to, under the circumstances, move more closely with the United States because of the image and unpopularity of the administration," he said.
"I think we had a good relationship with, and frankly, a useful relationship ... with the Bush administration, but I think this is an opportunity to start fresh and think (of the) much bigger picture."

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