It's the day that's been talked about since the announcement was made that Canada would be the first foreign country that President Obama visited. Yesterday, Thursday February 19th was that day. The President flew into Ottawa in Air Force One yesterday morning. Snipers stood on the roof tops of buildings. Barricades fenced off Parliament Hill. Police and security staff were stationed at their posts, which seemed to be every few feet. Royal Canadian Mounted Police, dressed in red serge, formed an honour guard. It cost 2 billion dollars to keep President Obama safe while he visited Canada's capital.
People lined the streets, holding signs. Some chanted, "Yes, we can." The President waved and smiled as he passed. He even asked Prime Minister Harper to give him a few moments to acknowledge the people.
Obama met with Harper to quell fears raised by his "Buy American" campaign, as well as for other reasons. He assured our prime minister that he didn't wish to send "signals of protectionism." He stated that he wants to "grow trade not contract it." He also said that he has no desire to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
When Air Force One touched down on the tarmac in Ottawa, it was a cold, blustery day. Obama was greeted by Governor-General Michaelle Jean and they shared a laugh as she escorted him into the airport's reception area. He and Harper greeted the crowd through plexiglass at the base of the Peace Tower, where about 2500 fans huddled half frozen in hopes of catching a glimpse of the lanky President.
As he was leaving Ottawa, President Obama stated the he looks forward to returning to Canada "as soon as it warms up." How could the people of Canada not welcome the US President with open arms? Though he feels security problems at the Canada/US border are a great concern, he wishes to try and balance security "with an open border that continues to encourage this extraordinary trade relationship."
Despite a blooper when he stated it's "a great pleasure to be in Iowa, er, Ottawa, the visit went well. He mentioned that he has a brother-in-law who lives here and added, "I love this country and we could not have a better friend and allie.
When Obama's motorcade, which included, "The Beast," departed Parliament Hill for the airport, it made a detour. The Presidential car made an unscheduled stop at ByWard Market, east of downtown. The President entered Oxxo Silk Market where he purchased a keychain with Canadian money. He was also looking for a snow globe. He said the gifts were for his young daughters, who collect memorabilia of the places that he visits.
From there, President Obama went to a vendor and purchased a "Beaver Tail," which is a kind of pastry unique to Canada. It was topped with a chocolate and maple syrup "O." The media stated that the President said it was to eat later. Then he visited a French bakery and bistro where he shook hands and greeted people and had his picture taken with at least one employee. He wanted to purchase three shortbread maple leaf-shaped cookies decorated with red icing, white trim and Canada written in white. The owner refused the President's money saying the cookies were a gift.
Stephen Harper and Barack Obama didn't exchange gifts on this visit. One of Harper's aides stated that "when you visit a close friend, you don't need to bring a present."
It seems that President Obama's visit was a huge success. He has wooed the people of Ottawa and the surrounding area and has touched their hearts like no other President has in my lifetime. I certainly enjoyed watching this debonair man on the six o'clock news and confirming that Canada's long friendship with the US continues.
We are to get snow over the weekend. Get out and enjoy it. Spring will soon be here and that pleases me just fine. Enjoy the season while it lasts. ~Blessings, Mary~