Beloved in Canada

By Dan Froomkin
1:00 PM ET, 02/20/2009

Michael D. Shear writes in The Washington Post: "President Obama warned on Thursday against a 'strong impulse' toward protectionism while the world suffers a global economic recession and said his election-year promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement on behalf of unions and environmentalists will have to wait.

"Obama made the comments as he stood with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his first trip abroad as president. The two pledged cooperation on efforts to stimulate the economy, fight terrorism in Afghanistan and develop clean energy technology."

Shear writes that "some longtime observers of the U.S.-Canada relationship said Obama's current position appears to confirm the impression" that "then-candidate Obama's frequent criticism of NAFTA was nothing more than campaign speeches aimed at chasing support among Rust Belt union workers."

Here's the transcript of Obama's joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Mike Dorning reports for Tribune: "If short on substance, the day marked a departure from the uncomfortable tone that characterized relations during George W. Bush's presidency, especially after Canada balked at joining its closest ally in the invasion of Iraq.

"In contrast, the enthusiasm for Obama shown by those who turned out on Ottawa's slushy streets was a rare display of pro-American sentiment in Canada. A crowd of several thousand greeted the president on the lawn of the Parliament complex, many having waited hours in a light snowfall."

Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes that Obama used "the first foreign trip of his presidency to ease tensions over trade policy, climate change and the war in Afghanistan — all the while basking in his celebrity status in a nation where his approval ratings are so high that a local bakery named a pastry after him.

Canada's CTV network reports: "An Ottawa Market shop girl says she nearly passed out with excitement when U.S. President Barack Obama made a quick stop into her store on Thursday after finishing up business on Parliament Hill...

"Obama's stopped at a French bakery for cookies, a souvenir shop where he picked up a key chain with a moose on it for his daughter and a scarf for his wife, and then the Beaver Tails Hut where 17-year-old Jessica Milien works...

"BeaverTails Canada Inc. founder and co-owner Grant Hooker had invented a custom-made Beaver Tail, called the Obama Tail, which was served at the Canadian Embassy during the Obama inauguration back in January.

"So that's what was served to the man himself: an Obama Tail, a tail-shaped deep-fried pastry, coated with cinnamon and sugar and topped with maple-flavoured eyes and drizzled with a Nutella 'O' for 'Obama.'"

White House new media staffer Jason Djang live-blogged the trip on whitehouse.gov. Sample post: "Ottawa is white, and the snow's still coming down. Police are on snowmobiles."

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