29

Stephen Harper in the Situation Room


 

Video of this historic meeting, does not yet seem to be available, but  Here’s the text of the Prime Minister’s interview with Wolf Blitzer today—noteworthy, if nothing else, for the fact that CNN feels the need to capitalize THE SITUATION ROOM in its transcripts. (Video is now here. Note that the Canadian flag is not positioned directly behind Mr. Harper.)

Blitzer promises more tomorrow. 

One can only hope it turns out to be as exciting as Lou Dobbs v. Jack Layton.

I’m Wolf Blitzer. You’re in THE SITUATION ROOM. .

President Obama’s getting ready for his first foreign trip as president. Destination: Canada. It’s a trip to a warm American ally, but there are some serious issues to discuss between the U.S. and Canada.

Just a short while ago, I spoke with the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, in an exclusive interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Prime Minister, let’s talk about some of the economic issues…

STEPHEN HARPER, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Sure.

BLITZER: … the U.S. and Canada right now.

In the economic stimulus package that President Obama signed into law — and I’ll quote from an editorial in the “Los Angeles Times” — “The final version signed Tuesday states that only U.S. steel and other materials will be used in the public works projects funded under the $787 billion measure, unless doing so would violate existing trade agreements.” The editorial was entitled “Obama to Canada: Sorry.”

What do you say about that? How is that going to play in Canada?

HARPER: Well, look, this is a — as you know, these provisions in the stimulus package have been a concern worldwide. That said, the package was modified to say that the U.S. would respect its international trade obligations. Obviously, we’ll be watching the implementation of that.

In Canada, we’ve just proceeded with our own stimulus package. It’s not quite as big as the United States, because obviously our economic difficulties at this point are not nearly as deep. But nevertheless, we have a stimulus package ourselves. We didn’t impose “Buy Canada” provisions. In fact, on the contrary, we actually removed duties on some important imports, partly for our own interests, and partly to stimulate trade.

I do think, Wolf, this is a huge risk to the world right now. If there is one thing that could turn a recession into a depression, it is protectionist measures across the world.

I’m very encouraged by the fact that President Obama said that he was concerned about that as well. And I’m confident with the modifications that are made, that the administration will implement this in a responsible way that won’t cause protectionist actions across the globe, because that would truly plunge us into a very long and deep economic…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Because the devil is in the details, as they say. If you don’t like the way they implement this provision, would Canada retaliate?

HARPER: Well, look, if any country doesn’t respect its obligations, Canada and other countries have recourse under international trade law. That said, Wolf, I think this is a debate we would rather avoid.

What we said at the G-20 last year, in November, was that all major economies would be committed to stimulus and would be committed to avoiding protectionist measures. I — and part of the reason we’re all committed to coordinated stimulus is we want to stimulate the global economy. We’re in a global economy, not just our national economies.

If we start thinking simply nationally, and we start having policies that try and restrict the benefits only within our borders, and try and implement protectionist measures as a consequence, this will not have the effect we need to have on the global economy. And that’s ultimately the global economy that’s pulling most of us down, particularly countries like Canada, that aren’t the source of these current economic troubles.

BLITZER: As you know, another potential thorn out there in U.S.- Canadian relations involves NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. You remember what President Obama said during the campaign about reopening perhaps some of the provisions of NAFTA.

Here is what he told the CBC this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: As I’ve said before, NAFTA, the basic framework of the agreement, has environment and labor protections as side agreements. My argument has always been that we might as well incorporate them into the full agreement so that they’re fully enforceable.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Are you open to reopening NAFTA, if you will?

STEPHEN HARPER, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think we have to be careful what we’re talking about.

Obviously, we’re always prepared to look at ways to make NAFTA work better. I think, quite frankly, NAFTA and the predecessor, Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, have been very good for both countries. I don’t think, in any way, we’re each other’s trading problems. We’re the biggest trade relationship in the world. It has grown exponentially on both sides under this agreement. So, I think it’s all very positive.

We’re always willing to look at ways it can work better. But it’s a fine line between looking at ways to make it work better and actually starting to open the agreement. I think, if you actually opened the agreement, I think you would get into a negotiation that — that would never terminate.

I’m — I don’t think that’s what President Obama is looking for, but, obviously, I’m looking forward to having a discussion on — on these kinds of trade and economic matters with him.

BLITZER: The president was complimentary to Canada on how it’s been dealing with its economic crisis, especially in the banking sector.

Listen to this excerpt of what he told the CBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: In the midst of this enormous economic crisis, I think Canada has shown itself to be a pretty good manager of the financial system and the economy in ways that we always — haven’t always been here in the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, now, we know the Canadian economy is obviously a lot smaller than the U.S. economy.

But what have you done? What advice would you have for the U.S. in how to deal with this banking sector? Correct me if I’m wrong, has the Canadian federal government been forced to bank out the — the major Canadian banks?

HARPER: No, we have been in — we have gone into the financial sector, and we have done some market transactions to improve liquidity.

But the fact of the matter is, we have the strongest banking system in the world. That’s what the — I think it was the IMF that said that. We haven’t had to bail out our financial institutions. But the fact is, because we’re in a global financial market, their ability to lend and to lend at competitive prices has been impacted by all of this. Look, you know, it’s — it’s — it’s hard for me to give advice to the United States. I would just say the — there are some big differences here. I look at President Obama in the last few days as trying to deal with three major issues. He’s got the financial sector package. He’s got the housing package. And he’s got the — the economic stimulus.

In Canada, we have a — a strong and stable banking sector, as I said, the strongest in the world. In housing, Wolf, we have, you know, a cyclical downturn, along with everybody else, but we don’t have anywhere near the subprime or structural problems that you have in the United States. That’s been through, quite frankly, better and more accurate regulations, and also, I think, a more conservative financial sector.

We’re doing stimulus as well, but we’re also doing that from a position — a position of financial strength. Our — our government is in a — has been in a surplus position up until this year. We should be able to recover to a surplus position shortly, as — as quickly as the economy recovers.

So, we’re able to do the kind of stimulus that you see in the United States without — without deteriorating our — our debt position in the long-term.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We’re going to have more of our exclusive interview with the prime minister of Canada coming up tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


 

Stephen Harper in the Situation Room

  1. Well Done – Stevie : We didn’t impose “Buy Canada” provisions – nice touch!

  2. What do you rate Harper’s posture in this clip, Aaron?

  3. The sweater vest has been pulled from the closet.

  4. Not on FOX News. Good God, I hope The Pouty One ™ is feeling okay.

  5. If you watch the video, Ottawa is marked on the map with a pulsing, throbbing red light.

    Gosh, this is getting exciting!

    • They used the same special effect Christmas eve tracking a low flying vehicle.

  6. Harper did awesome. I am so glad he is representing Canada. He is the strongest leader and communicator we have ever had. Just a terrific interview with PMSH!!!!

    • “He is the strongest leader and communicator we have ever had.” *

      (*since January, 2006. Some qualifications and restrictions apply.)

      • Harper did awesome. I am so glad he is representing Canada. He is the strongest leader and communicator we have ever had. Just a terrific interview with PMSH!!!!

        It’s too bad genuine expressions of enthusiasm for Harper and parodies of such expressions are indistinguishable.

  7. Why do so many politicians (especially Harper) start so many of their answers with “Well, look…”.
    It’s so condescending.

    • Obama also says “well, look…”. It just buys politicians a precious second or two so they can formulate their response. Others say “you know…” or “that’s a very good question…” Annoying? Perhaps. Condescending? Not really.

  8. Just watched the clip and actually I think he did very well. Spoke clearly, made good points, wasn’t condescending and answered questions at an appropriate pace. He rarely behaves this well for our own media outlets.

    I am actually impressed that he was on The Situation Room and was fairly interesting! All in all, pretty good show. Look forward to tomorrow’s second part! Finally we’re getting some attention in the U.S.!

    • As long as CNN stay far away from CANADIAN MSM, CNN might learn surprising things about the prime minister here at home and abroad to make their own decision.
      Relying on CBC for anything positive is like relying on CBC to tell you that the liberals are going to return our money which they stole from us-which will be never.
      MAYBE OBAMA might do the job for canadians. You know. they worship the man and will do anything for him. Well why not ask.

  9. Canadians will hate it because he wasn’t preachy enough (though he did like making the point that Canada was less screwed than the US), and Americans will hate it because he didn’t speak in sound-bites.

  10. It looked like he was simmering PO’d every time Wolf cited the CBC ~ doesn’t that dolt Blitzer realize that the Mother Corp is a Liberal front organization?!? Oh, and stay tuned to Harper’s incredible back-flip moon-walk away from his dancing partner GWB in the next episode. Laureen is going to be played by Tina Fey… Hilarious!

  11. He is good. I think Canadian journalists are missing the boat with their relentless focus on trivial issues and misguided slagging of almost everything the Harper government does.

  12. The prime minister STEPHEN HARPER of canada has done what the liberal party of canada never did.
    The Canadian journalists (if any) and the canadian national media are all liberals and socialists never once recognizing the prime minister nor made the attempt too-they are just manipulators.
    The prime minister recieves awards and recieved standing ovations in the internation scene never once to be seen by canadians to feel proud. THE MSM made sure of that. Instead, the MSM spent every hour rediculing mocking insulting direspecting the prime minister. The pride and respect for the prime minister is nowhere to be found, seen nor heard by the MSM.

    • Didn’t the liberal and socialist MSM give their majority endorsement of our Chess Master Prime Minister? I don’t think it is fair to slag our MSM because the PMO doesn’t want those liberal and socialist journalists to report actual news to Canadians.

      Perhaps you would prefer Harper was able to perform his modernized Goebbels impressions directly to Canadians, without the limitations of facts and analysis?

      I don’t see a problem with the PMO punishing news outlets for not running their propaganda either.

  13. The Prime Minister offers advice to the US:

    “In Canada, we have a — a strong and stable banking sector, as I said, the strongest in the world. In housing, Wolf, we have, you know, a cyclical downturn, along with everybody else, but we don’t have anywhere near the subprime or structural problems that you have in the United States. That’s been through, quite frankly, better and more accurate regulations, and also, I think, a more conservative financial sector.

    We’re doing stimulus as well, but we’re also doing that from a position — a position of financial strength. Our — our government is in a — has been in a surplus position up until this year. We should be able to recover to a surplus position shortly, as — as quickly as the economy recovers.”

    Better regulation of the financial sector? Strong government finances?

    In other words, his advice to Obama would be that it’s easier to ride the coat tails of a successful Liberal government than to have clean up the mess left behind by Republicans.

    Hmm…interesting.

    • “In other words, his advice to Obama would be that it’s easier to ride the coat tails of a successful Liberal government than to have clean up the mess left behind by Republicans.”

      Needed a good laugh there. If you look at the problems the US is having, a majority os caused by deregulation during the Clinton years. That was followed up by the Congress not willing to side with Bush on re-regulation during his tenure, although Bush did not do enough.

      As for successful Liberal governments….LMAO. If they were so successful, why did they get turfed? Oh, I know….CORRUPTION!! The banking structure Harper was talking about has been in place for decades!!

  14. I always watch the Situation Room but missed it yesterday unfortunately and wish I hadn’t. Prime Minister Harper I guess feels he can pull the wool over American eyes since Canadian eyes are starting to open to his political rhetoric.

    Yes Canada has a great finanical sector, thank goodness for Canadians since it has saved us from a severe downturn as many other countries are feeling but we were not in a surplus last year (only when the books were cooked according to the Opposition) and it wasn’t until the Opposition threatened to remove the Prime Minister from office if he didn’t come up with an immediate and realistic stimulus plan. Prime Minister Harper cannot be trusted. He also told in a conference for Canadians not to worry about the trade agreements. Sometimes I wonder if the Prime Minister even pays attention to American news or he just keeps blinders on and speaks from his own agenda and does not consider what the agenda is from other leaders.

    To bad there isn’t a CNN clip of this interview to put on my blog, I would have liked to see Wolf interview him.

    Stay Safe all

    • There’s a youtube link towards the bottom of the post.

  15. A very good performance, although that little smirk he gives at the end of a long answer bothers me. I can only imagine with horror what the result would have been if the coalition had succeeded and we had to watch Stephane Dion give that interview (though I think Ignatieff would have handled himself well).

    • I don’t think a coalition leader would have found it necessary to whore himself out to Wolf Blitzer, but that’s just me.

    • I shudder as well at the thought that it could have been Dion meeting the O ‘ man. I can see it now bbbbut it is ard to make agenda – then returning to default what did the PM know and when did he not no it .. no that’s not right .. what did the PM know that he did know .. and when did he … no thats not righ eether .. wait a sec I’m the PM … it’s hard to keep track of this stuff u no.

      • I shudder to think my taxes go to public education every time you comment, Wayne.

  16. Obama sued CITIBANK forcing it to make bad loans to people who can’t afford to pay it off.
    Now look what has happened.

    Obama has taken steps to follow GWB committment to AFGHANISTAN by sending more troops.
    Obama also has taken George W.B commitment towards americans safety and security by continuing GWB’s AMERICAN style ANTI-TERRORIST ACT BILL- unlike the liberals ndp and bloc that went against ANTI-TERRORIST ACT bill in favour of terrorists.
    Obama admires the prime minister of Canada and has taken many of the prime ministers ideas, Accountability is one. there is more.

    • Obama has actually continued to set our policy in this country. That is why the Governor General referred to him as ‘The Honourable.’

      He essentially is the Privy Council these days.

      I’m sure Obama admires our government as much as he appreciated Obamagate (remember, when our deathly partisan government thought it would intervene in his election campaign?).

      And I think any politican with morals would oppose the suspension of rule of law, liberty, freedom, due process, etc, in favour of security. If we aren’t free, who cares about security?

  17. I figure the likes of CBC and CTV must seriously edit the hell out of all their attack style interviews they spring on Prime Minister Steve.
    It’s like another planet.
    He did very well,on Blitzers show… very well.
    I am, for the first time in my life, find myself proud of my Prime Minister.
    Why does our own media always portray him in such a negative light?

    Especially with the example set by our previous thoroughly corrupt bunch of crooks we last kicked to the curb.

Sign in to comment.