Yes we can welcome VIPs -

Yes we can welcome VIPs


In response, no doubt, to this story, the PMO pushed out this announcement, notably light on details, a couple of minutes ago:

Obama Visit to Canada
We have been in close contact with President-elect Obama’s transition team. We can confirm that the President-elect has accepted the Prime Minister’s invitation to visit Canada soon after he is inaugurated. This will be President Obama’s first foreign visit.

I don’t think it matters overly whether the U.S. president visits Canada first, second or fourth; the relationship between the two countries is unique and can be affected only at the margin by personal relations between the two heads of government. Good relations are welcome and frosty relations are manageable. But given the truly mind-boggling amount of neurosis that surrounded the chronicling of relations between Chrétien and Bush after 9/11 — Tom Axworthy was on high alert for years afterward, and the relevant chapters in Jennifer Welsh’s book now read as poignant period literature, like something out of Edith Wharton — it’s only fair to provide you with this latest breathless update.


Yes we can welcome VIPs

  1. Do we have a Blair House that we can book John Howard into so that BHO has to stay at the Best Western when he stops over for a chat ?

  2. But given the truly mind-boggling amount of neurosis that surrounded the chronicling of relations between Chrétien and Bush after 9/11

    Françoise Ducros had it right.

  3. I don’t think it matters overly whether the U.S. president visits Canada first, second or fourth

    Sure it does. If Canada is second on Obama’s list Harper won’t get to greet him as PM.

    • LOL! Good point :)

  4. I wouldn’t attribute the tension to 911.

    I would attribute it to the Liberal party, as it began to decline, utilizing rank Anti-Americanism, to stir up the base.

    Bush hatred among the Canadian Left, is far worse that the Bush hatred of the American Left.

    Sure, it has all the elements of “acceptable bigotry” that the left espouses (southern accent, must be a knuckle dragging, unintelligent idiot etc), that the American left holds, as well as the same “Conservatives must be evil” class warfare themes,

    but add in Canadian insecurity, some progressive superiority complex, with a dash of the manifest destiny fear,

    and you’ve got yourself one good-ol-fashioned hatefest.

    • Macleans must pay you to troll.

      • who pays you Ti-Guy?

        • Ti-Guy performs a public service. He’s a $1/yr. man.

        • I’ve got a grant from Chubb.

          • I’d say you just get chub from typing ad hominem one liners.

    • I agree. I think Canada’s assessment of Bush was very crude. Among other things, there was little appreciation for the complexity of what needed to be done. Bush is not dumb, and he had some very capable decision makers around him. Various decisions did not go well — an obvious one being Iraq — but very few people knew that at the time. I had heard that Iraq did have WMD and they smuggled them off to Syria. Would Saadam have got them back if he had not meet his demise? Remember Iraqi’s themselves celebrating the toppling of the regime? Various other people supported this decision (e.g. Blair) and my recollection is that Canadians were divided — of course everyone is solidly against it once all the the civil strife happened. I think the big error there was having no plan for reconstruction — things should have gone much more smoothly.

      I am not a particular fan of Bush, but I do think he gets demonized in Canada more than is warranted — for reasons cited, not the least of which is his Southern accent and manner (“Yo, Steve”) — trivial stuff. Also, the fact that he is a Republican. I know that many are hopeful about Obama, but given the complexity of the problems and the largely unknown capabilities and minimal experience of Obama, let’s just see (hope) that he does better than Bush. I do not necessarily think that he will. Time will tell.

  5. I’d say Bush hatred is equally felt by the American and Canadian (and worldwide) left. But Bush disappointment runs across the entire political spectrum.

    • We’ll see what history says (recall Reagan was widely viewed in much the same way at the time – perhaps even more hated by the media and the left). But history remembers the big stuff, like Reagan “tearing down that wall.”

      Bush? The partisan sniping dissappears almost immediatly after losing power. Once time allows the partisan fog to fade, we may be left facing the big picture of Bush being the first leader to tackle the authoritarian middle east, and liberating two middle eastern countries: one from the vulgarity of Taliban rule, the other from the despotic Saddam.

      Of course the partisan fog has not faded so I suppose I will be hated for simply typing these words.

      • I don’t hate you, Kody, but I think you are wrong about the immediate aftermath of Reagan. People on the left may not have liked him, but Bush is in a completely different league. I don’t think the sands of time will wash away the horror of the Bush II presidency.

      • Reagan was made fun of for being a “dimwit” like W (more genuinely than Reagan I’m afraid) seems to be. Every President has a mixed record, and the popular media/conciousness seems to remember leaders more fondly than academia ever does. But right after Eastern Europe opened up and the USSR was cancelled due to lack of interest, Reagan (along with the Pope and Thatcher) were generally venerated for slaying the beast. They are still today.

        But with George W Bush the sniping is not entirely partisan, he has pissed off many on the American right. The particularly harsh sniping will dissapear relatively quickly, but along with him being portrayed forever by academia as the antiChrist, he will in the popular media– even in NASCAR country– go down in history as a worse President than Nixon. Maybe if in 800 years the Middle East somehow resembles the secular democratic West, there will be debate as to whether he helped speed up or delay the process. I’m really glad the Taliban and Saddam are gone. And I’m glad Obama is back to restore habeus corpus and end torture in the US.

        And don’t go out of your way to be such a martyr Kody– “I’ll be hated simply for typing these words”– sheesh, this is Macleans not! If you spent more time honing your debating skills and less time purely begging to be attacked for being the cool-rebel-lone-far-righter around here you’d get more respect.

        • Reagan/Thatcher and the Pope should receive credit for ending the cold war, but why does everyone forget the catalyst? without Gorbachov all this could have ended in more tears then it already did. The R/T hardline could have had disasterous results if the Soviet hardliners had had their way. Gorbachov in a very real sense gave us back our future, without a shot or worse being fired.

          • Why does everyone assume that Reagan “caused” the collapse of the Soviet empire? Does the fact that it ended during his tenure as a rather unengaged-in-the-details, late-rising, intellectually unambitious, horoscope-consulting US president, plus the fact that he was in favour of the collapse of the Soviet state, mean that he was therefore personally responsible for that outcome?

            There is reason to think that his hand in all this was neither the predominant hand in play, and that what hand he did have was far from clean.

            What actually happened is that the Soviet centrally planned economy, not good at generating wealth, had over time built up massive social welfare spending commitments, was heavily dependent for revenues on oil exports, and had lost its ability to satisfy popular expectations when oil prices collapsed in the 1980s. Gorbachev tried to negotiate a soft landing, but failed. Instead, with Boris Yeltsin’s drunken, thieving assistance, the Soviet state collapsed into a number of regional authoritarian fiefdoms of spectacular corruption and gangsterism. For the great majority of post-Soviet citizens, daily life became worse, not better. Keep in mind that the Soviet state of the 1970s and 80s was not at all the same beast as Stalin’s genocidal dictatorship.

            Maybe the Americans, in cahoots with the Saudis and Kuwaitis, helped the collapse of the Soviet system along by somehow persuading the Saudis (against their own economic interests) to overproduce oil in the 1980s, such that the price collapsed, harming the Soviet state’s ability to meet its commitments. Maybe, too, the CIA’s cynical organization and co-funding (with their ally Osama bin Laden) of an Islamist proxy war against the Soviet-backed socialist regime in Afghanistan “helped”. (The Afghan socialist government was no democracy, but it was secular, promoted gender equality and universal education, and was against Islamism, not a bad package seen in the rear-view mirror.) The CIA laid a deliberate trap, by paying mujahideen to attack and destabilize the Afghan government, in a successful effort to draw in the Soviet army to experience “their own Viet Nam” (courtesy of Zbigniew Brzezinski). This may have “helped” catalyze the collapse of the Soviet state, by damaging the respect of Soviet citizens for the effectiveness of their government, and by costing the Soviets a hell of a lot of money. Shame it also cost Afghanistan thirty years (so far) of radical misrule by warlords, opium dealers and fanatics, and a more or less permanent state of murderous anarchy (not to mention the organization and nurturance of al Qaeda), but heck, it was all in a good cause, eh! — surely we cannot weigh the piffling lives of a couple decamillions of illiterate ragheads against the thundering glories of great-power imperial statecraft?

            Unfortunately, the radical privatization-by-theft under Yeltsin (on Jeffrey Sachs’ shock-therapeutic advice) and the collapse of social services and of the middle class that followed the demise of the Soviet state became identified with “democracy” in Russia. This durably discredited multi-party democracy in the minds of many, perhaps most, post-Soviet citizens, paved the way for former KGB apparatchiks to take over the entire Russian state, and sets us up for another round of hating and being hated. It is worth considering the possibility that Gorbachev’s soft landing might have produced a better outcome.

            Why does any of this make mega-deficit-spending, Nicaraguan-and-Afghan-proxy-war-slaughtering, al-Qaeda-engendering, Inran-Contra-dealing, energy-efficiency-policy-abandoning, American-oil-addiction fostering Reagan some kind of great historical figure?

          • Gorbachev ended the Cold War……..Reagan had nothing to do with it without pretending to be some kind of hero. “Tear down this wall”, all smoke and mirrors, that idiot Reagan.
            Man was rather a dim-witted, right-wing tool.

          • Why does everyone assume that Reagan “caused” the collapse of the Soviet empire?

            Because arguing with historical illiterates is a waste of time.

            I travelled the Eastern Block in the early 80’s. There was no doubt in my mind that it was all going to collapse soon, The people themselves thought so.

        • “Maybe if in 800 years the Middle East somehow resembles the secular democratic West, there will be debate as to whether he helped speed up or delay the process.”

          Suppose it’s the other way around — Islam dominates and Bush is seen as the catalyst for Islamic world dominance — Bush as Reagan for the “other” side.

          • Careful,

            you’re coming awfully close to sounding like your wishing for a worldwide calamity to justify partisan hatred.

  6. I would think Harper and Obama will get along ok, the two of them have lots in common. And now that Harper has turned himself into a moderate liberal, the two of them should have lots to talk and agree about policy wise as well. It is also nice to see that Obama doesn’t hold a grudge about the NAFTA leak from a few months ago because it would have been very easy for Obama to want to punish us for that display of incompetence and indiscretion.

    I bet PM Brown felt apoplectic when he heard the news about where Obama was going to visit first. Brown’s fortunes have sunk pretty low recently, due to UKs dire economic circumstances, and I have read lots of stories in the past few months about how Brown hoped to use Obama to cast a spell over the Brits. Brown seems to think he’s going to be Obama’s mentor or something and the US president making UK his first port of call would have helped tremendously.

    • “And now that Haper’s turned himself into a moderate liberal.”
      That’s irony right? I’m having trouble with irony today. Is SH a shape shifter? Does he ever intend to shift back into a Consevative? I guess it;s only fair if Ignatieff pretends to be a Conservative for a while.

    • “Harper has turned himself into a moderate liberal”

      Do you think Laureen and the kids will join him at the gay pride parade this summer?

      • If he is no longer PM, Laureen will be shopping for a new hubby :-)

        • Hmm, that’s just cheap and gives fuel to the Kodies to rant.

          • “The Kodies”..

            You made it Kody! You’re now a generic noun, like Kleenex and Xerox!


  7. Possible telephone call between Harper and Obama:

    Harper: Hey, wanna visit Canada?

    Obama: Sure.

    Harper: Okay, thanks. When?

    Obama: Whenever … Gotta go. Bye.

  8. Hopefully Obama will remember that, while we did our best to undermine his campaign, we also did our best to undermine John McCain’s. If that’s not abstaining from intervention in another nation’s internal affairs, what is?

  9. Although it does not matter if a vist to Canada by Obama is first or second, it is important that the two leaders meet early on in order to establish a relationship that can be beneficial in stirring things up in the bureaucracy when necessary.

    I spent seven years in the Canadian Enbassy during the Reagan and Clinton Administrations and from my experience there is no one in the Obama camp who gives a hoot about the so-called “intererference” during the campaign. That is a non-issue and will never have a significant impact on the bilateral relationship except in the minds of NDPers and leftie Liberals in Canada.

    • Except for the gratuitous jab at NDPers and lefty Liberals I agree with Two Yen.

      Otherwise we’re saying that Obama can put aside all the slandering and unfair criticism from Hillary Clinton, but he just can’t get a good night’s sleep for worrying over what some Canadian embassy apaprtchnik said to some former PMO official who said something to the media that probably accurately describes his position when he isn’t talking to blue collar voters anyway? Obama doesn’t have enough storage capacity on his hard drive to hold grudges that petty.

  10. Interesting tidbit from the G&M follow-up:

    “Mr. Obama’s transition aides said Saturday that Mr. Obama and Mr. Harper hadn’t talked about the trip directly and Mr. Teneycke said it was too soon to say whether the president-elect would address Parliament.”

    Wonder if Kory T with the support of Stephen H is just making this up out of thin air to get some publicity and get Harpie’s numbers up. Now, that would be pathetic, wouldn’t it?

    • No more pathetic than Liberal attempts to ride Obama’s coattails.

    • It would be extraordinary to say the least that the two leaders would discuss visit arrangements directly. This is why heads of government have staff.

      • Of course, of course. You’d think the Obama transition team would have had a press release announcing this trip, right? They announced and invited the Mexican President to meet the Pres-elect next week, but apparently not TheStrategist(tm).

    • Also no more pathetic than the Liberals bashing Bush to get their numbers up.

      • Or, say, using an Australian Prime Mini—– whoops let’s not go there.

  11. Wow, good thing we have the CBC to fill up an Ipod with Canadian songs for the President-elect — look at the positive diplomatic results this inspired bit of cross-border friendship has produced already.

    However a tongue can gag oneself while it is firmly planted in a cheek, I have somehow just managed…

  12. The bigger issue is that the claim of Canadian gov’t trying to sabotage Obama is nonsense to begin with, and it’s being given way too much credibility in this thread and elsewhere. For example, the Star article contains the outright lie about Brodie leaking info on Obama’s NAFTA views. In actuality, he told a room full of reporters (after they asked him specifically) that he’d heard the Hillary campaign was saying “don’t worry, we don’t mean it.”

  13. I haven’t read many news stories about Obama’s visit, but I’m surprised no one has mentioned what may be the main motivation for him to come here first: I bet he’s going to give a speech urging all members of the ISAF to invest more troops (or length of time) in Afghanistan. The legitimacy of the mission (outside the far left) is greatly helped by having countries like Canada and the Netherlands involved. With Obama planning to refocus US efforts there, he’s hoping to nudge other Western nations into committing more (or longer) too. What will NOW magazine do? They’ll have to turn on him so quickly…

    • Picture Hitchcock’s “The Birds” with flying tabloids replacing winged creatures — swarming like homeless bees around Obama.

  14. This sounds like gushing girls hoping to land the star quarterback first (from the Star):

    “The visit to Canada could happen before the end of April, given that Obama insiders last month announced plans for the president-elect to deliver a major speech in a Muslim capital, likely within the first 100 days of his presidency.

    With the worsening economy far and away the most urgent among the constellation of issues facing the new president, analysts suggest Canada may be the first in a very short list of early international destinations.”

    Canada may be the first in a very short list. Now, that’s reassuring.

    I’d guess that the new Ambassador to Ottawa will take office before anything happens. I’d also guess that Obama will visit the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan before he visits Canada.

    Wonder if Harper or Jean would be attending the Jan 20 ceremony in Washington D.C.?

    • It could be worse, Anon, in Winnipeg the media get all gushy about IKEA planning to locate here. Most outlets have an informal IKEA beat to “cover” the “big story.”

  15. Hmmm….and who tweaked Gorbochov’s interest in democracy in the first place, before he climbed up the political ladder?

    Any guesses?

    • I’ll bit. I started this Gorbachov thread but i don’t really know that much about him. Wasn’t Yakovlev hismentor? he was here in canada for a while.

    • Eugene Whelan…the man in the green Cowboy hat!

  16. I have heard some buddies who work over at the PMO that Harper is going to try an associate himself as much as possible with Obama.

    I cant wait to see how he tries to pull that off.

  17. John K. is partially correct. It was Pierre Trudeau. When people were accusing Trudeau of being a communist, he was actually involved in hours of conversation about democracy with the then Russian embassador and Gorbochov. They had to keep it secret out of fear that they’d be caught. And, Gorbochov visited Whelan’s farms, watched the workers, etc. and was impressed.

    There’s a book out called the Russian Embassador, which I haven’t read, but I saw the author interviewed about this.

    • Actually, Yakovlev and Whelan became friends when Yakovlev was ambassador; the historic meeting between Yakovlev & Gorbachev was held at Whelan’s farm ostensibly because Whelan was Ag minister, but it was at the instigation of Yakovlev, who knew that Gorbachev was a rising star and wanted to make a connection.

      • JK – Funny how history is written by the victors and those in the limelight. Whelan and Yakovlev may have only been bit players, but nevertheles crucial ones.

    • Trudeau was a socialist who realized they only way to bring socialism to democratic countries was through the ballot box.

      Trudeau spent a lot of time with Yakovlev, and PET also arranged to bring Gorbachev on his first North America visit. Yakovlev and Gorbachev first met in Canada and the two of them went on to introduce glasnost, perestroika and other reforms. I don’t believe PET and Gorbachev spent much time together.

      • Jwl – thanks for the info. It’s debateable whether Trudeau was really a socialist. I remember reading that Romaneau [sp], who was a socialist was shocked to hear pet , in a interviw after pet’s retirement, use “we’ when they were reminiscing about the good old days. I guess it depends on which end of the political curve yr standing on?
        Yakovlev was a great Patriot and wound up in some despair over the direction Putin was taking his country.

  18. Thanks John K. I couldn’t remember the embassador’s name, etc. The author said in his interview that Trudeau believed in talks and communication as a way of moving people to another way of thinking.

  19. What a load of rubbish some of you write. Trudeau was not a socialist. If you need evidence of this, consider that the man who eventually brought us the Charter of Rights and Freedoms used the full power of the state in the form of the War Measures Act to totally crush a miniscule group of Marxist revolutionaries in the form of the FLQ. Gorbachev was not a democrat. He was a convinced Communist who wanted to introduce a measure of reform to save communism, not to destroy it. There were several periods during the history of communism in what became the Soviet Union where ‘reforms’ were introduced in order to save the existing communist order, including by Lenin himself in the form of the NEP. I can never make my mind up about Ronald Reagan. On the one hand, the support he gave for right wing dictators and mass murders, particularly in Central America, was and is unconscionable. Guatemala is a particularly disgusting example of how wrong U.S. foreign policy was during Reagan’s presidency. On the other side, for all his faults, he stood up for democracy in an unequivocal way that one cannot help but admire. But he wasn’t responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union. The incompetence of Gorbachev combined with the total economic disaster that was the Communist system and the inability or unwillingness to maintain their rule by force did that. Communism collapsed because the communist leadership no longer had the stomach to use force to maintain themselves in power. I leave the final word to the people of Poland and particularly of Nowa Huta, created by Stalin as a model city in order to help sell communism and discredit the old, supposedly corrupt bourgeois order represented by Krakow. They renamed ‘Plac Centralny’ where a statue of Lenin used to stand and where all roads spoke out from in Nowa Huta as ‘Ronald Reagan Place’. The decision to do so remains controversial. They know better than we do.

    • i f you’re going to rubbish the opinion of others you might actually want tohave something logical to say yourself. Trudeau was a socialist because he invioked the WMA, eh? if the crisis had occured on Mulroney’s watch would he be a socialist too? Because crisis it was, people died, bombs went off. Ironically by showng some spine Trudeau shocked many who thought him a combination of john Lennon and Castro, not to mention losing a lot of face in Quebec. It’s called leadership. Mistakes were made, mostly heavy handed police tactics and round-ups. If i’m not mistaken Trudeau started the process that would replace the WMA.
      Yr take on REagan was pretty reasonable. Gorbachov may or may not have been incompetent but i believe we [ western world] owe him at least as much, if not more than Reagan or Thatcher.

      • No, Trudeau was NOT a socialist because if he were one, he would have mollycoddled the Marxist separatists. Revolution is the classic way to power for Marxists, because they believe that the common person is completely brainwashed by the capitalist system. If he were truly a socialist, he would have had some sympathy for their position. He didn’t. He crushed them. Too effing right. It would be expected for a right wing Prime Minister to have done the same, but it would have been much more difficult to do so precisely because that person would be right wing (only Nixon can go to China). Remember that Trudeau was a member of the reactionary right in Quebec when he was a pup.

        We don’t owe Gorbachev shit. We owe Boris Yeltsin everything. He is the one who broke the Communist stranglehold on power in Russia and made sure that the economic system was changed forever. He also had his many faults, but he was a true democrat.

        If I had to pick between Reagan and Thatcher, I would have to say that on balance, Maggie was the one we should all thank. She inspired Reagan to a great extent. She totally remade the economy and the polity in United Kingdom in a way that nobody has done anywhere in the democratic world at any time. She came totally unstuck when she introduced the Poll Tax – I don’t know whether this was blind faith in her advisors or whether it was a Harper-like ‘stick it to the opposition’ move. But it was wrong, and anybody who knows British history would have known why. Maggie did what was needed to reform British society and make it strong again. And she did. So funny to see a pathetic dilettante like Mike Harris try to imitate her success, only to prove that Baroness Thatcher had more balls than he did. Harper doesn’t know whether his arse is bored or punched from that point of view.

        • My apologies. I mis-read yr earlier take on Trudeau completely. If i have time will respond later

          • No worries. Looking forward to your response.

  20. Would it be too much to ask that Obama pick up the cost for this trip? Technically the economic mess this country is entering is not the fault of Obama but, it was his country that “deregulated”, on the rest of the world.