Thursday, February 19th, 2009 at 9:20 am
Liveblog: The President in Canada
President Obama is on his first foreign trip today -- to Ottawa, Canada's capital city. He'll meet with Governor General of Canada Michaelle Jean, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Leader of the Official Opposition Michael Ignatieff, as well as US Embassy employees and their families. White House New Media staffer Jason Djang is along for the ride and will be liveblogging from the road.
9:12 a.m.: Just loaded press bus bound for Parliament. We landed ahead of AF1 and will get to Parliament ahead of POTUS, so no reports on him. Ottawa is white, and the snow’s still coming down. Police are on snowmobiles. About to head out.
9:20 a.m.: Canal Rideau is frozen over, and there are people ice skating on it.
9:25 a.m.: Alternating U.S. + Canadian flags line the street in front of Parliament. Parliament itself is beautiful. It's early yet, but a crowd is already forming outside to steal a glimpse of the President.
10:33 a.m.: As per the pool report, AF1 has just touched down on the frozen runway. Taxing to position. Royal Canadian mounted police (RCMP) are marching to the foot of stairs.
10:35 a.m.: (Ed. note: Looks like Canada's National Post is liveblogging, too. Check it out.)
10:36 a.m.: POTUS is greeted by Governor General Michaëlle Jean, His Excellency Jean-Danielle Lafond, US Charge d’Affaires ad interim Terry Breese, and Canadian Ambassador to the US, Michael Wilson on the tarmac before a line of Royal Mounted Police in their traditional red uniforms. Sans horses.
11:32 a.m.: After an extended meeting with Governor General Michaëlle Jean, the President is en route to Parliament.
11:43 a.m.: 10 alternating U.S. and Canadian flags and six MPs (Members of Parliament) await the President in the Parliament rotunda. Loud cheers can be heard out front as the motorcade pulls in.
11:47 a.m.: POTUS enters and meets MPs and signs the Parliament guest books (big books). Lots of smiles. Departs with Prime Minister Stephen Harper for private meeting.
2:27 p.m.: The President and Prime Minister are wrapping up a closed-door working lunch. They should be coming out to talk a bit pretty soon.
2:42 p.m.: The President and PM are about to begin a joint press conference in the Parliament Reading Room. Murals of Canadian enterprise and industry adorn the high walls. Each event today boasts an exponential increase in the number of flags.
2:52 p.m.: PM remarks on the new chapter on U.S.-Canadian relations. Priorities:
1. Close cooperation on addressing the economic crisis
2. New clean energy dialogue
3. Shared international priorities
2:54 p.m.: President's turn. Emphasizes the two nations' commitment to work for peace, prosperity, and human rights, as well as addressing climate change.
3:06 p.m.: Q&A now. POTUS, on climate change: "This is not just a U.S. issue or a Canadian issue, it's a worldwide issue that we're going to have to confront...we can save consumers money, we can save businesses money...as two relatively wealthy countries, it's important for us to show leadership in this area...right now there are no silver bullets to solve this problem, which is why sharing research, sharing ideas, is so important."
3:11 p.m.: On NAFTA and global trade, POTUS: "As one of the largest economies in the world, it's important for us to be showing leadership."
PM: "The trade challenges we face in North America are common trade challenges, they're not problems between our countries."
3:27 p.m.: PM: "Threats to the United States are threats to Canada."
3:31 p.m.: POTUS closes on a lighter note: "Want to thank the Canadians who came over the border to campaign for me."
3:38 p.m.: That'll do it. President exits down the gothic Hall of Honor, wrapping up a productive day. Cheering crowds send him off.