February 19, 2009

President Obama goes to Canada. [Stephen Harper, energy, Rick Mercer, Dalai Lama]

Obama meets with PM Stephen Harper today to discuss energy, the environment (especially Canada’s Mordor-like Tar Sands, which Treehugger calls the worst environmental disaster in the world), war, and generally to repair our relationship with Canada. 

Via Treehugger:

EST 1505 Question From Radio Canada in French:

How far will you go to harmonize and reconcile your energy and climate change policies?

Harper: Too soon to talk about harmonization, but we talked about technology and investment. I am optimistic that we now have a partner that will provide leadership to the world on the climate change issue.

Obama: On both sides of the border we can make our economies more energy efficient and enhancing our energy security. But increasingly we have to take into account that the issue of climate change and greenhouse gas is going to have impact on all of us.

In Canada you have the issue of the oil sands; in the United States we have the issue of coal. If we could figure out capturing carbon then it would make a big difference. We are not going to solve this overnight.

Excerpt via CSM:

President Obama hinted Tuesday that he hopes to find continued military support from Stephen Harper in Afghanistan beyond 2011. But if his conciliatory tenor – evident in a television interview aired in Canada in advance of the meeting – is any indication, the president appears to be using his maiden foreign visit to send a broader diplomatic signal: America wants to rebuild its alliances.

At the very least, the meeting with Canada’s prime minister is expected to set the tone for relations for years to come. And although the Canadian leader’s ideological views are more closely attuned to Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, the shared economic problems of both nations are likely to bridge partisan divides, analysts say.

“They’re in the same boat, facing the realities of the world situation, so they will certainly be working together,” says Colin Robertson, an expert in Canada-US trade relations. “The focus here for Obama – as it has been at home – is jobs. It’s an integrated economy. We don’t just trade things anymore. We make things together, so the emphasis is going to be on how we make things better together.” …

Energy issues: Canada is the largest supplier of energy to the US, with much of it in the form of natural gas and oil, including petroleum from this refinery in Edmonton.

Environmentalists have been heavily critical of Harper’s environmental record, particularly the widespread extraction of oil-rich sands in Alberta, and have recently been running ads in US newspapers, urging the Obama administration to “say no to dirty oil.”

The industry is concerned that the president’s aggressive green-energy plans and initiatives to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions will make their operations too costly. Harper has long touted Canada as an emerging energy superpower and has proposed a joint Canada-US climate regime as one way of blunting possible punitive regulatory measures from the United States.

Some political watchers believe energy issues may well be a flash point between the two leaders.

“It’s a crucial economic issue and I don’t think Canada has any reason to be confident on the successful outcome of this issue,” says Prof. Paul Quirk, who specializes in US politics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “The US administration is likely to be quite avid in its concern for reducing the causes of climate change.”…

…for the rest, go to the Christian Science Monitor.


Bonus, the Rick Mercer Report sleeps over with Stephen Harper at Canada’s White House:


And a bonusbonus, Ricker Mercer on the Dalai Lama’s latest book:


Canadians are really this Truman Show-esqe nice (except the Quebecois, who are savvy, cosmopolitan, fun and cynical):

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