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Monday, February 23, 2009

Obama opens White House door to Michaelle Jean

WOW! That was my reaction to the news that President Barack Obama has extended an open invitation to Michaelle Jean, the Governor General of Canada to visit him at the White House. In an unprecedented move in Canadian-United States relations, an American president is welcoming the appointed Governor General to visit.

For those who may not follow the Canadian system here is brief primer. In our parliamentary system, under the constitution, the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II is our head of state, but the Governor General, appointed by the Queen on the advice of the prime minister of the day, acts on her behalf when she is not in Canada -- hardly ever here ever for that matter. That`s quite a mouthfull but that`s the way it is.

It was obvious when the president and the governor general met at Ottawa Airport last week on Obama`s visit to Canada that they hit it off, and they had quite a long chat particularly about Haiti where Ms Jean was born. It was also very historic. The first black US president meets the first black Canadian Governor General.

The invitation also signalled that President Obama does things differently than his predecessors.

After meeting Stephen Harper, the prime minister, Obama actually steered him out to where he could acknowledge the crowd of Canadians who had gathered on Parliament Hill to catch a glimpse of him. As he was leaving he did it again. Both unscheduled events but important to those who came out on a cold Winter day in Ottawa, although Harper looked totally surprised.

Obama also said he would like to return to Canada when it is warmer. Goodness, Mr President, it can be very cold in Chicago.

And perhaps on his next trip, Canadians can make sure he attends a hockey game. He admitted in an interview he had never seen one.

Heading back to the airport Obama`s motorcade made another unscheduled stop at the famous Byward Market where he got an Obama Tail at the Beaver Tail Hut and some gifts for his wife and children. I am not even going to try and describe a beaver tail! Apparently Obama was even going to pay with a $20 Canadian bill but he was given his purchases free. (We can be sure that the RCMP and Secret Service were well aware of this stop long before it was made,)

I had my doubts about the American media coverage of Obama`s trip but it got wide coverage on television and the newspapers. Ed Henry, a CNN White House correspondent was in full flight as he talked about `thousands`of Canadians lining the streets to welcome the president. Well Ed, maybe not thousands and thousands!

Perhaps the success of the presdident`s first official visit to a foreign country was summed up in his own words, ``I love this country.`` WOW!!!!! Let`s all hope the romance continues.

Please feel free to comment.

2 comments:

Jeremy Vickers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Canadian Tourism said...

On the eve of his first foreign visit, Canadian Tourism shot some videos of Canadians welcoming Obama to Canada. They're worth a look!

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

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet

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