By The Associated Press - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx…
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx as his new transportation secretary, a White House official said Sunday.
If confirmed by the Senate, Foxx would replace outgoing Secretary Ray LaHood.
Foxx is Obama’s first black nominee among the new Cabinet members appointed for the second term. The president faced criticism early in his second term for a lack of diversity among his nominees.
The official insisted on anonymity to avoid public discussion of the pick before the official announcement.
The official noted that Foxx has led efforts to improve his city’s transit infrastructure to expand economic opportunity for businesses and workers. During Foxx’s term as mayor, Charlotte has broken ground on several important transportation projects, including the Charlotte Streetcar Project to bring modern electric tram service to the city as well as a third parallel runway at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. The city has also moved to extend the LYNX light rail system to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the official said.
Foxx, an attorney who has worked in several positions with the federal government, was first elected mayor in 2009. He also served as a member of the Charlotte City Council.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 7:22 PM - 0 Comments
The NDP leader will be in Washington, DC from Monday through Thursday next week for meetings.
He is scheduled to meet with House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, former chair of the Democratic National Committee Howard Dean and Congressional Budget Office director Douglas W. Elmendorf, as well officials from the White House, IMF and World Bank.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
The president begins his second term with political capital to spend, but plenty of barriers in his way
There will be two Bibles (Abraham Lincoln’s and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s), dozens of balls, thousands of musicians and marchers on parade, and more than a half million people expected to descend on Washington to watch Barack Obama take the oath of office for his second term on Jan. 21. The President will arrive at his inauguration more popular than at any time since his first year in office—with an approval rating of 53 per cent—and determined to push a new agenda through a Republican-controlled House of Representatives whose popularity is a fraction of the President’s.
In his high-minded inaugural address in 2009, Obama declared, “What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.” Unfortunately, the last four years proved the cynics right. If anything, partisanship has grown more intense, and Congress more averse to compromise. In the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner cannot control a significant number of conservative hard-liners in his own caucus.
Obama comes to his second term reinvigorated and combative with a policy agenda that looks hastily ripped from recent headlines: a post-Newtown attempt at gun control, a post-hurricane Sandy renewed interest in climate change, and a return to the issue of comprehensive immigration reform in the wake of an election in which he won 71 per cent of the Latino vote. But while he embarked upon his first term in the midst of an economic crisis, his second term unfolds amid a made-in-Washington fiscal crisis and partisan stalemate. Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, September 7, 2012 at 4:27 AM - 0 Comments
President Barack Obama’s speech to the Democratic convention in Charlotte was not as emotionally captivating as Bill Clinton’s, nor as stirring as the speech Obama himself delivered at the 2008 convention in Denver, but it could prove to be an important manifesto for Democrats.
Yes, large tracts of his speech were bread-and-butter appeals to the middle class on such pocketbook issues as income-tax deductions for mortgage interest payments or student loans. And there was a laundry list of transactional appeals to every demographic sub-group of the Democratic coalition: Hispanics, women, young people, gays and lesbians, and unions.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 5:29 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Thomas Mulcair began with a reminder of something Stephen Harper had once said. This is always a good place to start. Not for the sake of accuracy or precedent or for the purposes of demonstrating the seriousness with which one should regard the words of the Prime Minister, but for entertainment’s sake. A bit like sitting around with a bunch of friends recalling various things one of you once did or said. As that Nickelback song so poignantly captured.
“Mr. Speaker, this is what the Prime Minister said in 2009,” Mr. Mulcair said. ” ‘The military mission in Afghanistan will end in 2011. I have said it here and I have said it across the country. In fact, I think I said it recently in the White House.’ ”
That is, indeed, what Mr. Harper said on October 1, 2009, as recorded in Hansard, in response to a question from Jack Layton.
“It is now 2012 and our soldiers are still in Afghanistan,” Mr. Mulcair continued, now speaking for himself. “Has Canada received a request from the United States to keep our troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014?”
Mr. Harper stood here and said another one of those remarkable things. ”Mr. Speaker,” he said, “our military presence in Afghanistan is determined by this House.” Continue…
By Gabriela Perdomo and Gustavo Vieira - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 5:52 PM - 0 Comments
For better or worse, it’s been roadblock after roadblock for North America’s most infamous pipeline. Here’s a look at that tortuous timeline:
February 2005 – TransCanada Corp. announces plans to spend $1.7 billion to build a 3,000 km pipeline to move heavy oil from Alberta to Illinois. About 40 per cent of the route would be a conversion of existing pipelines that carry natural gas to handle 400,000 barrels of heavy crude. TransCanada was expected to be operating the pipeline as early as 2008.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, October 3, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 17 Comments
Obama’s base turns up the heat on the oil sands pipeline
One day in early September, some dozen Democratic activists showed up at the Washington state headquarters of Obama for America, the President’s re-election campaign organization in Seattle. They cornered the state director, Dustin Lambro, and called on the President to block TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would bring crude oil from the Alberta oil sands through the U.S. Midwest to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas, potentially doubling exports of oil sands crude to the U.S. “It’s not an issue I know much about,” Lambro said. So the activists gave him an earful.
“We want to get the message to President Obama,” said a bearded man in a baseball cap, “that if you want us to vote for you this time around, this is what you’ve got to do.” Added a woman: “If you want us to work for you, that’s more important. We all worked for you.” Said a grey-haired business owner: “I was a campaign donor for Obama. I raised money for him. I raised a lot of money for him. We can’t afford to have Barack Obama keep compromising on the issues and the values that endeared him to his faithful.” By the end of the encounter, Lambro offered: “I’ll call my boss in Chicago. She’ll relay the message to the senior leadership of the campaign.”
The scene, as captured on a YouTube video, is playing out all over the country as anti-pipeline advocates increasingly turn away from the official State Department-run permit process, and turn up the heat on Barack Obama’s political operation. They have been showing up at his speeches and fundraisers, and greet him with chants of “Yes We Can—Stop the Pipeline.” They bird-dog his top campaign manager, Jim Messina. And as a follow-up to the summer’s civil disobedience that saw some 1,200 activists arrested in front of the White House in August, they are planning demonstrations at Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago, and bigger operations at his state headquarters. Environmentalists also plan to remind the President of his environmental campaign promises on Nov. 6, one year before the election, by bringing 10,000 people to Washington to form a human ring around the White House.
By John Parisella - Monday, April 18, 2011 at 4:18 PM - 28 Comments
Outside of the rhetoric and the partisanship, it is fair to say that the…
Outside of the rhetoric and the partisanship, it is fair to say that the debate about the deficit and the debt is shaping up as a classic one over the role of government and the kind of country Americans want to build for their children. On the one side, Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has been rightly commended for his audacity and courage to put his proposals forward at great risk. And, on the other, President Obama has finally made it clear where he stands and where he wants to take the country.
Both men acknowledge the need for important and drastic cuts in spending. They both recognize that the current path is unsustainable. The deficit is right now hovering at about 10 per cent of GDP and the debt is over 90% of GDP. Where Ryan and Obama differ is on the solutions. Ryan wants an overhaul of major entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and wants to repeal Obama’s healthcare reform. The Bush tax cuts would become permanent under Ryan’s plan, which also calls for a reform of the tax code.
Obama’s approach keeps the major entitlement programs intact, but puts in place mechanisms to produce operational cuts. Elsewhere, Obama is promising to eliminate the Bush tax cuts on those earning over $250,000, calls for important cuts to defense spending, and also proposes to reform the tax code. Obama has made a compelling case for the kind of country he believes Americans want—compassionate and fair. In so doing, he may have re-energized his supporters who have found him far too compromising of late.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of six senators is working on a compromise solution. Its work will be inspired by the compromise spirit that prevented last week’s government shutdown, the contrasting Obama/Ryan visions, and the conclusions of the president’s debt and deficit commission led by former chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former senator Alan Simpson. This will all be added to the mix just as the Republican presidential nomination process kicks in.
The initial reactions seem to pit right against left, red against blue, small against big, and rich against less rich (i.e.the middle class). Media pundits reflect these assessments. It is highly likely that the battle lines are now drawn for the debt ceiling debate in the coming weeks, the 2011-2012 budget negotiations between the White House and the Republican-controlled House, and the 2012 presidential election.
As matters stand, Obama’s approach seems to have more potential with the electorate, which generally favours the longstanding entitlement programs. Ryan’s desire to make the Bush tax cuts on the rich permanent and to turn Medicare into a voucher program, opening the way for private insurers, makes it more daring but far more controversial and less voter-friendly.
The Republicans in the House have endorsed Ryan’s approach, which will place an obligation on the GOP presidential challenger in 2012 ( not easy if your name is Mitt Romney and you passed a health care reform bill similar to Obama’s as Governor), Obama has succeeded in remotivating his base by what they have seen in last week’s speech as the line in the sand.The face of America is in for an historic confrontation. Let the battle begin.
By John Parisella - Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 9:32 PM - 12 Comments
Every third monday in February, the U.S. celebrates a national holiday honouring George Washington…
Every third monday in February, the U.S. celebrates a national holiday honouring George Washington and his successors as president. The presidency was not originally meant to be the most important elected office in the world. The separation of powers between the exceutive and legislative (Congress) branches made sure that American Revolution would not replace a royal monarch with a civil one. Also, at the time of the founding Constitution, the new nation was far from being the superpower it would become less than 200 years later. Yet, no one today would dispute that the American president, despite the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution, is the most consequential political actor in the world.
Whether it is FDR announcing direct U.S. involvement in WWII after Pearl Harbour, Truman dropping the bomb at Hiroshima to end the war, JFK confronting the Soviets in the Cuban Missile Crisis and deciding to launch the program to put a man on the moon, Nixon going to China, Reagan telling the Soviets to tear down the Berlin Wall, or Bush choosing to go to war after 9/11, a president’s decisions can go a long way to steer the course of history. As a Canadian living in the United States, I choose to honour this February 21st holiday by highlighting those inspirational presidents who made an impact on me and otherwise made a significant contribution to improve the human condition:
-Abraham Lincoln for the abolition of slavery;
-Franklin D. Roosevelt for social security;
-Lyndon B. Johnson for the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, as well as Medicare, Medicaid and the War on Poverty;
- and Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton for active, inspiring and productive post-presidencies.
I know there have been many other significant presidencies and they deserve to be highlighted. It is also too early to draw conclusions on the current presidency of Barack Obama (although healthcare reform, if it lasts, and the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will be historic). Fifteen presidents governed a nation that condoned slavery, and women did not have the right to vote until the 28th president. But the rhetoric and vision of Jefferson and Adams, as well as the contributions of Andrew Jackson, have contributed to making Presidents Day a worthwhile celebration.
Tough presidential decisions have been made in the course of history around the world that have improved the lot of many in the world. Overall, the two-party system has produced men (and, hopefully soon, women) of stature, though only few of true greatness out of the 44 who have served.
What is truly inspiring and worth honouring this President’s’ Day is the stability and vibrancy of the world’s most successful democracy, and the importance of role the occupants of the office of the presidency have played in building it. Happy Presidents Day to my American friends.
By John Parisella - Saturday, February 5, 2011 at 12:08 PM - 22 Comments
I did not share most of his politics, but I can acknowledge that Ronald…
I did not share most of his politics, but I can acknowledge that Ronald Reagan was the most significant U.S. president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He brought conservatism into the mainstream and many of his politics did much to prepare America for the challenges of the next century. The man had his flaws, but he bonded with his people and his memory does not diminish with the years.
To Republicans, he embodies character, vision, and greatness. While he swept to office as the most ideologically driven president in a half-century, he governed in a most pragmatic way. Most notably, his conservative mantra of balanced budgets and reducing the size of government quickly gave way to compromise and incrementalism. By the time he left office, Reagan had never balanced a budget and defence spending grew as never before under his watch.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, February 4, 2011 at 5:33 PM - 9 Comments
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release February 4, 2011
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA
AND PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER OF CANADA
IN JOINT PRESS AVAILABILITY
South Court Auditorium
3:21 P.M. EST
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon, everyone. Please be seated.
I am very pleased to be welcoming my great friend and partner, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, back to the White House to reaffirm our extraordinary friendship and cooperation between the United States and Canada. I’d like to talk a bit about what we accomplished today, and then address the situation unfolding in Egypt.
The United States and Canada are not simply allies, not simply neighbors; we are woven together like perhaps no other two countries in the world. We’re bound together by our societies, by our economies, by our families — which reminds me my brother-in-law’s birthday is today and I have to call him. (Laughter.)
And in our many meetings together I’ve come to value Stephen’s candor and his focus on getting results, both when it comes to our two countries and to meeting global challenges. Although I, unfortunately, have not yet had the pleasure of seeing him and his band jam to the Rolling Stones — but I’m told the videos have become a sensation on YouTube. So I’ll be checking those out after this bilateral. (Laughter.)
We’ve had a very successful day. Our focus has been on how we increase jobs and economic growth on both sides of the border. Canada is our largest trading partner and the top destination for American exports, supporting some 1.7 million jobs here. So today we’ve agreed to several important steps to increase trade, improve our competitiveness, and create jobs for both our people.
First, we agreed to a new vision for managing our shared responsibilities — not just at the border but “beyond the border.” That means working more closely to improve border security with better screening, new technologies and information-sharing among law enforcement, as well as identifying threats early. It also means finding new ways to improve the free flow of goods and people. Because with over a billion dollars in trade crossing the border every single day, smarter border management is key to our competitiveness, our job creation, and my goal of doubling U.S. exports.
And, Mr. Prime Minister, I thank you for your leadership and commitment to reaching this agreement.
We’ve directed our teams to develop an action plan to move forward quickly. And I’m confident that we’re going to get this done so that our shared border enhances our shared prosperity.
Second, we’re launching a new effort to get rid of outdated regulations that stifle trade and job creation. Like the government-wide review that I ordered last month, we need to obviously strike the right balance — protecting our public health and safety, and making it easier and less expensive for American and Canadians to trade and do business, for example, in the auto industry. And a new council that we’re creating today will help make that happen.
Third, we discussed a wide range of ways to promote trade and investment, from clean energy partnerships to the steps Canada can take to strengthen intellectual property rights.
And we discussed a range of common security challenges, including Afghanistan, where our forces serve and sacrifice together. Today, I want to thank Prime Minister Harper for Canada’s decision to shift its commitment to focus on training Afghan forces. As we agreed with our Lisbon — or our NATO and coalition allies in Lisbon, the transition to Afghan lead for security will begin this year, and Canada’s contribution will be critical to achieving that mission and keeping both our countries safe.
Finally, we discussed our shared commitment to progress with our partners in the Americas, including greater security cooperation. And I especially appreciated the Prime Minister’s perspective on the region as I prepare for my trip to Central and South America next month.
Let me close by saying a few words about the situation in Egypt. This is obviously still a fluid situation and we’re monitoring it closely, so I’ll make just a few points.
First, we continue to be crystal-clear that we oppose violence as a response to this crisis. In recent days, we’ve seen violence and harassment erupt on the streets of Egypt that violates human rights, universal values and international norms. So we are sending a strong and unequivocal message: Attacks on reporters are unacceptable. Attacks on human rights activists are unacceptable. Attacks on peaceful protesters are unacceptable.
The Egyptian government has a responsibility to protect the rights of its people. Those demonstrating also have a responsibility to do so peacefully. But everybody should recognize a simple truth: The issues at stake in Egypt will not be resolved through violence or suppression. And we are encouraged by the restraint that was shown today. We hope that it continues.
Second, the future of Egypt will be determined by its people. It’s also clear that there needs to be a transition process that begins now. That transition must initiate a process that respects the universal rights of the Egyptian people and that leads to free and fair elections.
The details of this transition will be worked by Egyptians. And my understanding is that some discussions have begun. But we are consulting widely within Egypt and with the international community to communicate our strong belief that a successful and orderly transition must be meaningful. Negotiations should include a broad representation of the Egyptian opposition, and this transition must address the legitimate grievances of those who seek a better future.
Third, we want to see this moment of turmoil turn into a moment of opportunity. The entire world is watching. What we hope for and what we will work for is a future where all of Egyptian society seizes that opportunity. Right now a great and ancient civilization is going through a time of tumult and transformation. And even as there are grave challenges and great uncertainty, I am confident that the Egyptian people can shape the future that they deserve. And as they do, they will continue to have a strong friend and partner in the United States of America.
Mr. Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER HARPER: Well, first of all, thank you, Barack. Both thank you for your friendship both personal and national. And thank you for all the work you’ve done and all of your people have done to bring us to our announcement today.
[Speaks in French.]
And I will just repeat that.
Today, President Obama and I are issuing a declaration on our border, but it is, of course, much more than that. It is a declaration on our relationship. Over the past nearly 200 years, our two countries have progressively developed the closest, warmest, most integrated and most successful relationship in the world. We are partners, neighbors, allies, and, most of all, we are true friends.
In an age of expanding opportunities but also of grave dangers, we share fundamental interests and values just as we face common challenges and threats.
At the core of this friendship is the largest bilateral trading relationship in history. And since the signing of the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, a milestone in the development of the modern era of globalization, that partnership has grown spectacularly.
Not only is the U.S. Canada’s major export market, Canada is also America’s largest export market — larger than China, larger than Mexico, larger than Japan, larger than all the countries of the European Union combined. Eight million jobs in the United States are supported by your trade with Canada. And Canada is the largest, the most secure, the most stable, and the friendliest supplier of that most vital of all America’s purchases — energy.
It is in both our interests to ensure that our common border remains open and efficient, but it is just as critical that it remains secure and in the hands of the vigilant and the dedicated. Just as we must continually work to ensure that inertia and bureaucratic sclerosis do not impair the legitimate flow of people, goods and services across our border, so, too, we must up our game to counter those seeking new ways to harm us.
And I say “us” because as I have said before, a threat to the United States is a threat to Canada — to our trade, to our interests, to our values, to our common civilization. Canada has no friends among America’s enemies, and America has no better friend than Canada.
The declaration President Obama and I are issuing today commits our governments to find new ways to exclude terrorists and criminals who pose a threat to our peoples. It also commits us to finding ways to eliminate regulatory barriers to cross-border trade and travel, because simpler rules lead to lower costs for business and consumers, and ultimately to more jobs.
Shared information, joint planning, compatible procedures and inspection technology will all be key tools. They make possible the effective risk management that will allow us to accelerate legitimate flows of people and goods between our countries while strengthening our physical security and economic competitiveness.
So we commit to expanding our management of the border to the concept of a North American perimeter, not to replace or eliminate the border but, where possible, to streamline and decongest it.
There is much work to do. The declaration marks the start of this endeavor, not the end; an ambitious agenda between two countries, sovereign and able to act independently when we so choose according to our own laws and aspirations, but always understanding this — that while a border defines two peoples, it need not divide them. That is the fundamental truth to which Canadians and Americans have borne witness for almost two centuries. And through our mutual devotion to freedom, democracy and justice at home and abroad, it is the example we seek to demonstrate for all others.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right, we’ve got time for a couple of questions. I’m going to start with Alister Bull.
Q Thank you very much, Mr. President. Is it conceivable to you that a genuine process of democratic reform can begin in Egypt while President Mubarak remains in power, or do you think his stepping aside is needed for reform even to begin?
And to Prime Minister Harper, on the energy issue, did you discuss Canada’s role as a secure source of oil for the United States, and in particular, did you receive any assurances the U.S. administration looks favorably on TransCanada’s proposed Keystone Pipeline to the Gulf Coast? Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I have had two conversations with President Mubarak since this crisis in Egypt began, and each time I’ve emphasized the fact that the future of Egypt is going to be in the hands of Egyptians. It is not us who will determine that future. But I have also said that in light of what’s happened over the last two weeks, going back to the old ways is not going to work. Suppression is not going to work. Engaging in violence is not going to work. Attempting to shut down information flows is not going to work.
In order for Egypt to have a bright future — which I believe it can have — the only thing that will work is moving a orderly transition process that begins right now, that engages all the parties, that leads to democratic practices, fair and free elections, a representative government that is responsive to the grievances of the Egyptian people.
Now, I believe that President Mubarak cares about his country. He is proud, but he’s also a patriot. And what I’ve suggested to him is, is that he needs to consult with those who are around him in his government. He needs to listen to what’s being voiced by the Egyptian people and make a judgment about a pathway forward that is orderly, but that is meaningful and serious.
And I believe that — he’s already said that he’s not going to run for reelection. This is somebody who’s been in power for a very long time in Egypt. Having made that psychological break, that decision that he will not be running again, I think the most important for him to ask himself, for the Egyptian government to ask itself, as well as the opposition to ask itself, is how do we make that transition effective and lasting and legitimate.
And as I said before, that’s not a decision ultimately the United States makes or any country outside of Egypt makes. What we can do, though, is affirm the core principles that are going to be involved in that transition. If you end up having just gestures towards the opposition but it leads to a continuing suppression of the opposition, that’s not going to work. If you have the pretense of reform but not real reform, that’s not going to be effective.
And as I said before, once the President himself announced that he was not going to be running again, and since his term is up relatively shortly, the key question he should be asking himself is, how do I leave a legacy behind in which Egypt is able to get through this transformative period. And my hope is, is that he will end up making the right decision.
PRIME MINISTER HARPER: You asked me about the question of energy, and, yes, we did discuss the matter you raised. And let me just say this in that context. I think it is clear to anyone who understands this issue that the need of the United States for fossil fuels far in excess of its ability to produce such energy will be the reality for some time to come. And the choice that the United States faces in all of these matters is whether to increase its capacity, to accept such energy from the most secure, most stable and friendliest location it can possibly get that energy, which is Canada, or from other places that are not as secure, stable or friendly to the interests and values of the United States.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think we’ve got a Canadian reporter.
Q Prime Minister, can you answer this in English and French? Canadians will be asking how much of our sovereignty and our privacy rights will be given up to have more open borders and an integrated economy. And while I have you on your feet, I want to ask you about Egypt, as well, whether you feel that Mr. Mubarak should be stepping down sooner, it would help the transition?
And, Mr. President, on the sovereignty issue, you’re welcome to answer it — you don’t have to speak in French, though. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Laughter.) Now, I love French, but I’m just not very capable of speaking it. (Laughter.)
PRIME MINISTER HARPER: On the question of sovereignty, this declaration is not about sovereignty. We are sovereign countries who have the capacity to act as we choose to act. The question that faces us is to make sure we act in a sovereign way that serves Canada’s interests. It is in Canada’s interests to work with our partners in the United States to ensure that our borders are secure, and ensure that we can trade and travel across them as safely and as openly as possible within the context of our different laws.
And that is what we’re trying to achieve here. We share security threats that are very similar on both sides of the border. We share an integrated economic space where it doesn’t make sense to constantly check the same cargo over and over again — if we can do that at a perimeter, if we can decongest the border, that’s what we should be doing. If we can — if we can harmonize regulations in ways that avoid unnecessary duplication and red tape for business — these are things that we need to do.
So that’s what this is all about. This is about the safety of Canadians and it is about creating jobs and economic growth for the Canadian economy.
Let me maybe — I’ll do French and then I’ll come to Egypt.
(Speaks in French.)
On the question of Egypt, let me just agree fully with what President Obama has said. I don’t think there is any doubt from anyone who is watching the situation that transition is occurring and will occur in Egypt. The question is what kind of transition this will be and how it will lead. It is ultimately up to the Egyptian people to decide who will govern them.
What we want to be sure is that we lead towards a future that is not simply more democratic, but a future where that democracy is guided by such values as non-violence, as the rule of law, as respect and respect for human rights, including the rights of minorities, including the rights of religious minorities.
(Speaks in French.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: With respect to security issues and sovereignty issues, obviously, Canada and the United States are not going to match up perfectly on every measure with respect to how we balance security issues, privacy issues, openness issues. But we match up more than probably any country on Earth.
We have this border that benefits when it is open. The free flow of goods and services results in huge economic benefits for both sides. And so the goal here is to make sure that we are coordinating closely and that as we are taking steps and measures to ensure both openness and security, that we’re doing so in ways that enhances the relationship as opposed to creates tensions in the relationship. And we are confident that we’re going to be able to achieve that.
We’ve already made great progress just over the last several years on various specific issues. What we’re trying to do now is to look at this in a more comprehensive fashion, so that it’s not just border security issues, but it’s a broader set of issues involved. And I have great confidence that Prime Minister Harper is going to be very protective of certain core values of Canada, just as I would be very protective of the core values of the United States, and those won’t always match up perfectly.
And I thought — I agree even more with his answer in French. (Laughter.)
All right. Thank you very much, everybody.
END 3:49 P.M. EST
By macleans.ca - Friday, February 4, 2011 at 4:47 PM - 45 Comments
Agreement focuses on security and trade
At a White House press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama announced a new bilateral agreement on border security and trade. Harper met for an hour with Obama in the Oval Office to discuss the idea of a North American security perimeter that would secure the border while allowing for more open trade. “It is in both of our interests to ensure our common border remains open and efficient,” said Harper, who addressed the White House press conference in English and French, noting that 8-million U.S. jobs are dependent on Canada-U.S. trade and that Canada was the largest and most secure supplier of energy to the United States. The new plan will combat bureaucratic inefficiencies by using modern technology, harmonizing inspection procedures and increasing shared information between the two countries. Harper rejected that the agreement will infringe on Canadian sovereignty, while Obama remarked that the U.S. and Canada “are not simply allies, not simply neighbours,” but “are woven together like perhaps no other two countries in the world.” Opposition critics have accused the Conservative government of having a “secretive” approach on the issue by not debating the terms of the agreement in Question Period.
By John Parisella - Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:34 PM - 20 Comments
While the Democrats lick their wounds, the GOP looks to rein in the Tea Party
It is true this year will end on a bipartisan note. But with the arrival in Washington of a contingent of Tea Partiers, watch for a lot of Congressional posturing. Despite their long-standing affinity for each other, Tea Partiers will test the leadership skills and patience of House Speaker John Boehner as the Republicans try to find a viable political platform. Will the GOP stick to an agenda of smaller government which they promised under Reagan and Bush, but failed to deliver? Will they tackle the hard issues of entitlement and defense spending? Can the GOP retain its pro-free trade stance in the face of the Tea Party’s isolationist tendencies?
The Democrats, meanwhile, are still licking their wounds from the mid-terms, and the party’s liberal-progressive wing is still smarting from the deal on the Bush tax cuts. Are they prepared to tackle reforms to the types of social programs that are dear to their liberal-progressive roots? And even though Barack Obama ended on a relatively high note, with polls showing some rebound at the end of the year, can he carry the remainder of his agenda forward with a divided Congress and Republicans eyeing the White House?
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 4:28 PM - 13 Comments
Just in from the White House: “The Obama Administration today sent a preliminary bill for $69.09 million to BP and other responsible parties for response and recovery operations relating to the BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The Administration will continue to bill BP regularly for all associated costs to ensure the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund is reimbursed on an ongoing basis.”
BP’s 2009 profits: $14 billion in a bad year.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 1:21 PM - 16 Comments
In the wake of Barack Obama’s appearance at a Republican gathering last week, a rather eclectic and impressive group of Americans is demanding their own “Question Time.” David Corn at Mother Jones explains. Balk at the Awl dissents. David Axelrod isn’t convinced.
POLITICO asked White House senior adviser David Axelrod about the possibility of regular question time on Monday, before the online campaign was announced, and he said the president’s aides were more likely to look for one-shot opportunities for Obama to engage with Republicans. ”The thing that made Friday interesting was the spontaneity,” Axelrod said. “If you slip into a kind of convention, then conventionality will overtake the freshness of that.”
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 12:20 PM - 6 Comments
This is the new norm in Canada’s relations with the United States
When Stephen Harper meets with Barack Obama and Felipe Calderón at the annual North American leaders’ summit in Guadalajara on Aug. 9-10, it will be the seventh time in six months that he’ll have met the U.S. President at one international confab or another. Once a month ain’t bad, or so a group of White House officials quipped to their Canadian counterparts at a planning meeting ahead of Obama’s first taste of the trilateral get-together. The message: relations are just fine, thanks. When something needs to get done—a binational auto bailout or a trilateral co-operation on the swine flu, the neighbours have worked together hand-in-glove.
In recent years there has been fretting in Ottawa that the trilateral summits instituted under George W. Bush had overshadowed bilateral relations. Canada, the U.S. and Mexico had launched the Security and Prosperity Partnership that brought together hundreds of faceless bureaucrats to work on hundreds of to-do lists of harmonizing regulations and pruning border red tape—a largely behind-closed-doors exercise that also spawned hundreds of conspiracy theories about the coming “continental union” of the three countries. While some of that bureaucratic work may continue, the new U.S. administration seems to be uninterested in grand exercises in North America-building. Officials in all three countries are coming to the conclusion that the SPP was “too rigid,” the to-do list was too long, and the process was not nearly inclusive enough of civil society, nor sufficiently transparent. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 10:19 PM - 24 Comments
For some months now, the Prime Minister’s Office has been conducting periodic briefings for reporters—usually bureau chiefs, but generally one representative from each of the major media outlets. John, Paul and I have regularly attended (except when we don’t get the note). The topics discussed typically range from the Prime Minister’s itinerary to upcoming government action to the PMO’s spin on whatever happens to be making news at the moment.
There is only one rule at these briefings: the government official conducting the briefing must not be identified by name.
Everyone in the room agrees to this. And, in the myriad reports that follow, any information gleaned subsequently cited to a “senior government source” or some such.
This is now widely accepted practice. But, er, why? Continue…
By selley - Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 3:28 PM - 3 Comments
Must-reads: …Robert Fulford, John Ibbitson, David Frum, Doug Saunders, Dan Gardner and John Ivison
Oh yes he did
What the 44th President means to the United States, Canada and the world.
The Ottawa Citizen’s Dan Gardner traces a brief history of racist American legislation and public opinion for the purposes of highlighting just how far the nation has come, and how quickly. He recounts the story of Jacqueline Henley, a Louisiana toddler whose aunt found it impossible to raise her amidst rumours the child’s father was black, and whose adoption by a black couple was rejected by the courts on grounds she was officially white, and they wouldn’t inflict official blackness on her unless there was irrefutable evidence. That madness was in 1952; today, says Gardner, everybody knows Barack Obama’s mother was white and nobody cares. Heck, it was only 41 years ago the Supreme Court nixed anti-miscegenation laws, and in that time public approval of intermarriage has gone from 80 per cent against to 80 per cent in favour. In short, don’t you tell Dan Gardner that “moral progress” is impossible.
Can this “new Democratic coalition of New Southerners, liberal northerners, wary blue-collars, African Americans, Latinos and suddenly mobilized” youth be sustained, John Ibbitson asks in The Globe and Mail, or will it “dissolve as [Obama] struggles to reverse economic decline and financial panic”? It remains, naturally, to be seen. But Americans made a historic decision yesterday, he contends, that “the last eight years were a waste” and that “we need to start again”—and the world will take note. More fundamentally, however, Ibbitson says Obama’s victory is a reaffirmation of what’s possible in the political world. “Peace can come to Ireland. The Cold War can end. America’s racial wounds can start to heal.”
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 4:10 PM - 0 Comments
From the Los Angeles Times:
A senior U.S. official involved in Russia policymaking vehemently denied that the administration had sent mixed messages, arguing that although Saakashvili had long received strong support from the most senior American officials, Georgians were warned not to engage Russia militarily.
“We have consistently, and on Thursday also, urged the Georgians not to move their forces in. We were unambiguous about it,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity when discussing private talks with the Georgians. “Saakashvili had always told us he could not stand by while Georgian villages were being shelled, and we always knew this was a point of pressure. We always told him that he should not give in to the kind of provocations we knew the Russians were capable of.”
But Phillips said he believed that even if the State Department was warning the Russians, the Georgians heard a different message.
“I think the State Department was assiduous in urging restraint, and Saakashvili’s buddies in the White House and Office of the Vice President kept egging him on,” Phillips said.