I'll be posting soon about the first week back at Mount Allison, but for the moment there's a story I'd like to share. In case you haven't heard the news, Barack Obama has chosen to visit Canada in his first trip abroad as President. This is surely a great sign for Canadians, knowing that the American President appreciates the special relationship between the US and Canada.
Barack Obama to visit Canada after inauguration
U.S. president-elect Barack Obama shakes hands as he stops to eat at a Washington restaurant on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009. (AP / Gerald Herbert)
U.S. president-elect Barack Obama will visit Canada for his first foreign visit after his inauguration later this month.
"We're honoured and thrilled he has chosen Canada," Peter Kent, Canada's minister of state for foreign affairs of the Americas, said.
The planned trip will continue a longstanding tradition of new American presidents choosing Canada for their first official state visit.
The tradition was broken by President George Bush after his election when he visited Mexico instead.
The fact that Obama has revived the tradition of earlier presidents bodes well for Canada, CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife said.
"This has got to please the government and please Canadians, in general," he told Newsnet.
This "clearly shows that Barack Obama understands that Canada is an important player," he said.
Details of the trip are still emerging, but Fife said Canada and the U.S. have a variety of bilateral issues to discuss.
"There was a concern that with the American economy in such dire straits -- and the fact that there are so many global problems facing the Americans -- that he (would) not come to Canada right away," Fife said.
"(But) clearly, if the economy is going to be a major issue for (Canadian and U.S. leaders) they will probably want to work as closely as possible."
Besides the economy, Afghanistan and Obama's plan to close Guantanamo Bay are expected to be at the top of the agenda.
Experts say that the issues discussed during the leaders' first official meeting may not be as important as establishing a respectful relationship.
"What's more important is how the prime minister and the president get on in terms of their relationship with each other," Errol Mendes of University of Ottawa said. "(Their relationship) doesn't have to be chummy chummy . . . (they just) can't be aggressive to each other."
Fife added that the visit will also give Obama and Harper an opportunity to discuss climate change issues.
Harper has proposed a North American accord to deal with the issue. Obama, too, has indicated he wants to change American policies to deal with global warming and energy issues.
Obama has also said he wants to shift America's focus back to Afghanistan from Iraq, making it a bigger priority in the coming months and years.
"Clearly, there is recognition here that Canada has carried a significantly heavy load in Afghanistan with loss of lives," Fife said.